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Aberdeen defender Mikey Devlin moves a step closer to ending his injury nightmare

Aberdeen's Mikey Devlin has returned to training after a long injury absence.

Aberdeen defender Mikey Devlin has taken a step closer to finally ending his 18-month injury nightmare.

Manager Stephen Glass confirmed the Scotland international centre-back has returned to training.

Glass insists Devlin is ‘ramping up’ his rehabilitation from long-term injury.

However, the 28-year-old’s return to action from his injury hell is not imminent.

Devlin has not featured this season and managed only 56 minutes of action in the 2020-21 campaign.

The defender’s last start was the 2-2 draw at Kilmarnock on March 4 last year.

Glass says having Devlin back with the squad is ‘brilliant’ as the defender takes a step forward in his fight to return to action.

Aberdeen’s Matty Kennedy and Mikey Devlin (right) celebrate at full time in a Scottish Cup quarter final against St. Mirren in February 2020.

Glass said: “Mikey has been on the grass more regularly with the physios and sports scientists.

“He can take part in little bits of training now.

“Mikey is still a little bit away to be fair.

“That’s not imminent, his comeback, but it’s ramping up and he’s getting around the group more.”

Impressive start before injury setback

Signed from Hamilton in January 2018, Devlin has made just 35 starts for Aberdeen with a further 16 appearances off the bench.

When signing for Aberdeen, Devlin was battling back from a cruciate ligament injury suffered with Hamilton in the final Premiership game of the 2017-18 season.

Devlin continued his rehabilitation at Pittodrie upon signing and made his Dons debut in the 1-1 draw with English Premier League side Burnley in the Europa League second qualifying round first leg at Pittodrie on July 26, 2018.

The defender made an impressive start to his Dons career and was one of the club’s stand-out performers.

That form earned a call up to the Scotland squad in November 2018.

Devlin’s injury nightmare began on international duty in 2018 as he suffered a foot injury while training with the Scotland squad ahead of a Nations League tie with Albania. He had been set to start that match and earn a debut cap.

Mikey Devlin during a Scotland training session at The Oriam on November 12, 2019.

Devlin was subsequently ruled out for four months, missing the League Cup final loss to Celtic – another hammer blow for the defender.

Centre-back Devlin returned to fitness and earned three Scotland caps in the 2019-20 season in Euro 2020 qualifiers against Russia, San Marino and Cyprus.

However, the defender missed the start of last season with a hamstring issue and did not return to action until coming off the bench in a 1-1 draw with St Mirren on December 5.

Unfortunately, just days later, Devlin would suffer ankle ligament damage while blocking a shot in training – and he has yet to feature since that fresh setback.

‘Brilliant’ to have Devlin back in the group

Devlin’s Aberdeen contract was set to expire this summer, but the Dons gave the Scotland cap a short-term deal to allow him a window to battle back to fitness.

Aberdeen’s Mikey Devlin (left) tackles Celtic’s Vakoun Issouf Bayo on October 27 2019.

Glass said: “It’s brilliant for Mikey to be around the group.

“Even to see him in here (Cormack Park, training ground) and around the boys is brilliant.

“Mikey actually started on Friday as part of training – he is back around the group on grass.”

Aberdeen’s defensive injury crisis

Devlin is one of five defenders currently sidelined as the Reds have been hit with an injury crisis at the back.

Scotland international Andy Considine is unavailable until early in the new year, having suffered a cruciate ligament injury in the 1-0 Europa Conference League play-off first leg loss to Qarabag in Azerbaijan in August which required surgery.

Aberdeen’s Declan Gallagher suffers an injury in the 1-0 defeat of Hibs.

Another Scotland international centre-back, Declan Gallagher, is also sidelined, having suffered a hamstring injury in the first half of the 1-0 defeat of Hibs.

Highly-rated right-back Calvin Ramsay, who is being tracked by Manchester United, Everton, Leicester City, West Ham and Southampton, was also forced off in the first half against Hibs with a quad muscle problem.

Left-back MacKenzie, meanwhile, suffered an ankle injury in training and has missed the last three games against Hearts, Rangers and Hibs.

The key defensive role of Scott Brown

During the defensive injury crisis, Glass has turned to captain Scott Brown, who has played at centre-back in the last three games against Hearts, Rangers and Hibs that have produced a rapid revival in Aberdeen’s fortunes.

The 36-year-old played at centre-back in a three in the first half of the 2-1 defeat of Hearts before moving into midfield at the start of the second half.

Glass said: “An experienced player who can play there is vital.

“A leader like Scott at the back of the pitch, someone who can see everything, is important.”