Malky Mackay believes Aberdeen midfielder Lewis Ferguson has the maturity to handle his Scotland national team breakthrough with ease.
Ferguson was handed his maiden cap by Steve Clarke as a substitute in Wednesday’s 2-0 World Cup qualifying defeat to Denmark in Copenhagen.
The Dons player, who has eight under-21 caps to his name, is involved in the senior squad for the first time for the triple header against the Danes, Moldova and Austria.
During his time as Scottish FA performance director, Mackay witnessed Ferguson’s development through the national youth setup.
Having clocked up 134 appearances for the Reds, netting 25 goals, Ferguson was the subject of a failed bid by Premier League side Watford during the summer.
Mackay, who is now Ross County manager, has been impressed by the way the 22-year-old has blossomed since his move from Hamilton Accies in 2018.
Mackay said: “He’s always been a mature player. It comes from dad (Derek Ferguson) and uncle (Barry Ferguson). They’ve been in football for a long time.
“He’s been a very level-headed young man when he’s been involved with us.
“He got into the Aberdeen team at a young age, worked under Derek McInnes and now is being seen as one of the leaders.
“He’s having to deal with the transfer speculation, call-ups to the national team and new contracts and things like that.
“It’s all things to have good going on around you but all you do is focus on every day in training and if you do that you play well on a Saturday these things come. I’m sure thats what his dad and uncle are telling him.
“He’s a very calm boy and there are not too many real highs and real lows going on there. He will go away with the national team and it’ll just be the next step.
“It’s what we try to do with the 16s, 17s, 19s, 21s. It’s a structure that allows a player to go to the next level again.
“He now steps into Steve’s full squad and there will be plenty of players in there who will be able to talk to him and keep him right.”
Mackay took charge of the Scotland national team for a friendly against Holland in 2017, stepping in on an interim basis following the departure of Gordon Strachan.
The former Cardiff City and Watford boss fielded a youthful side, a number of which have gone on to become Premier League regulars.
Mackay feels Ferguson is among a batch of younger players pushing to follow suit, adding: “When you look at some of the players who have come through, some played at Pittodrie that night.
“You look at Kenny McLean, John McGinn, Kieran Tierney, Andy Robertson and Ryan Fraser who are all down there.
“You could see they were coming. I think I said it that night – there was a group coming here that was going to do really well for the country.
“What we need is the next lot behind that again. You’ve got Billy Gilmour, Nathan Patterson, Lewis, coming behind that.
“It’s great testament to the clubs and the coaches at the Scottish FA who have done a great job with these kids.
“Lewis to go on and push onto the first team it’s what Scot Gemmill’s team is all about.
“We’ve just had Billy and Nathan and now Lewis has had his call-up.
“There are signs ahead of some really good young talent in Scotland pushing through. I’m absolutely delighted for Lewis.”