Aberdeen can’t take eye of the ball with Rangers chasing says Kenny McLean

Kenny McLean holds off Hearts' Anastasios Avlonitis.

Dons midfielder Kenny McLean says they are ready for the challenge of taking on Rangers in the battle for second spot in the Scottish Premiership.

McLean was one of the star performers as Aberdeen beat Hearts 2-0 at Pittodrie to stay eight points clear of the third-placed Gers.

The Dons also have a superior goal difference, with only nine games to go.

But McLean warned it would be dangerous for them to start thinking they already have second spot in the bag.

He said: “There is a lot of football still to be played.

“We will take it game by game, as we have always done.

“I accept we are in a good position.

“If Rangers feel they can get second, then good luck to them.

“But we want it too, and are willing to work hard for it.

“We can’t take our eye off the ball. We need to keep going, week in, week out.”

McLean’s performance was only the latest in a long list of top class ones he has produced for the Dons this season.

It was expected he would be rewarded with a place in the Scotland squad for Wednesday’s friendly against Canada and next Sunday’s World Cup qualifier with Slovenia at Hampden.

McLean admitted he is “disappointed” not to be among the 30 players picked by national coach Gordon Strachan for the double header.

But he refused to criticise Strachan, who has included 14 midfield players in the group who were set to gather in Edinburgh today to prepare for the clash with the Canadians.

“Everybody wants to play for their country and I’m no different,” said McLean, who has one cap already, from a friendly against the Czech Republic.

“I’m disappointed but when you look at the squad there is a lot of quality in there.

“You can’t argue because the manager has picked a great squad.

“It’s up to me to just work harder and keep pushing myself forward for a place.

“If I can keep doing what I’m doing at Aberdeen maybe the chance will come again.”