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Former Aberdeen defender Scott McKenna aiming to regain Scotland starting spot

Scott McKenna has been capped 23 times by his country.
Scott McKenna has been capped 23 times by his country.

Former Aberdeen defender Scott McKenna says he will be ready if called upon for this weekend’s crucial World Cup qualifier against Israel at Hampden.

The Nottingham Forest centre-half was an unused substitute in the national team’s 1-0 wins against Austria and Moldova.

His most recent outing was at the start of last month’s triple-header when he was substituted at half-time in the 2-0 defeat against Denmark in Copenhagen.

With Grant Hanley suspended for the visit of Israel, McKenna hopes he can force his way back into the line-up but the former Don knows competition for places is fierce.

The 24-year-old said: “It might open things up but Scott McTominay is back and we have Liam Cooper, Jack Hendry and Kieran Tierney.

“There are lots of options for the manager to pick from.

“I have always said it is far better having competition than lads playing because that is all that is there.

“There are five or six players fighting for those two positions and it means the team will be in a better position because of that.”

From left, Lyndon Dykes, Scott McKenna and Scott McTominay during a Scotland training session at Oriam in Edinburgh.

McKenna admits he had little complaints with being left out of the team for the wins against Austria and Moldova.

He said: “The boys have been excellent in the last two games.

“We’ve had two clean sheets and I wouldn’t expect too much change.

“If I am asked to play I will be ready.

“I know the boys who have come in have done well and I fully understand it.

“Even when you are away from the camp you know the manager or somebody will be watching for him.

“Even at club level you have to keep doing what you can to show him what you can do.

“The fact we kept a clean sheet at the weekend and stopped conceding as many goals at club level should help the manager put a bit more faith in me.”

Scott McKenna could step in to replace the suspended Grant Hanley.

McKenna is on 23 caps for his country and would love to make it to the 25-cap milestone during this international window with Scotland heading to the Faroe Islands on Tuesday following their home match against Israel.

He said: “I am only a couple away from that.

“It would be a great achievement to reach 25 caps but I am not too fussed when that comes.

“I would rather it was sooner than later but I would rather be in a winning squad, with everyone doing well than just focusing on myself.”

McKenna is delighted to see his former Aberdeen teammate Lewis Ferguson in the squad and felt the former Hamilton Accies player, who was the subject of a transfer bid from English Premier League side Watford in the summer, was always destined to be a Scotland international.

He said: “Fergie has been excellent at Aberdeen for a number of years now.

“It was only ever a matter of time before he got called up.

“Centre midfield has been a strong area for the national team but he’s fully deserving of being in the squad.”

Scotland sit second in Group F with 11 points from their opening six games following last month’s win in Austria with Israel only a point behind.

But McKenna hopes a sold-out Hampden can help the national team take a step closer to a second place finish that would guarantee a World Cup play-off spot.

He said: “On the back of the Austra result, we still have that buzz and we want to carry that into this game now.

“A full house at Hampden is exciting.

“I remember when we played there against Israel in the Nations League and how empty it was that night.

“It’s a sign of how far we’ve come as a squad and a team that Hampden is now sold out for this one.

“So this will be special and if we can get a positive result it’ll put us in control of the group ahead of the Faroes trip and then Moldova.

“So hopefully we can get the business done.”

 

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