McInnes takes it as Red that GMS will stick around

Aberdeen's Gary Mackay-Steven.
Aberdeen's Gary Mackay-Steven.

Dons boss Derek McInnes today insisted he is working on the basis Gary Mackay-Steven will be at Pittodrie beyond the transfer window.

The 28-year-old winger returned to action for the first time in six weeks when introduced as a substitute in the 2-0 defeat of FC Dibba Al-Hisn in Dubai.

Scotland cap Mackay-Steven had been ruled out with concussion since being knocked unconscious in a clash of heads in the Betfred Cup final on December 2.

While out in Dubai the Reds were contacted by MLS side New York City who confirmed their intention to talk to the winger’s representatives.

McInnes insists he has heard of no fresh developments with New York City and the winger.

Mackay-Steven is out of contract at the end of the season and has been free to talk to any other clubs from the opening of the winter transfer window on January 1.

The winger looked sharp in the friendly and will be in contention to make his competitive return in the Scottish Cup fourth-round tie with Stenhousemuir on Saturday.

McInnes insists he is planning on the winger remaining at Pittodrie – unless an offer comes in or Mackay-Steven indicates otherwise.

Asked if there had been any development with New York City, McInnes said: “I’ve not heard anything and I haven’t spoken to Gary about it.

“I’m going with him for the rest of the season, as expected, unless an offer comes in or he indicates anything different.

“Gary looked sharp when he came on. It’s been a good five or six weeks since he’s played, so it was good to get him back out there.”

The friendly at the Jebel Ali Centre of Excellence also marked the return to action of centre-back Mark Reynolds after six months out.

Reynolds has been sidelined since undergoing knee surgery in late July having sustained a cruciate ligament injury in a friendly with Cove Rangers.

Centre-backs Tommie Hoban and Mikey Devlin both returned to training in Dubai but the friendly came too soon for them.

A defensive injury crisis in the first half of the season is now being alleviated substantially.

McInnes said: “It was good to get Mark Reynolds out on the pitch after being out for so long with his cruciate.

“When we go back and start picking up training again on Wednesday, Shay Logan, Tommie Hoban and maybe Stevie May will be back in full training.

“So we are close to getting our bodies back.

“Reynolds, Hoban and Devlin really reinforce that back-line that has been really decimated, and we also lost young Max Lowe back to Derby.

“Certainly in the last few games of December it was a real strain on us trying to patch a back four together.

“Getting those reinforcements in, Reynolds included, is great for us and gives us more options.”

Right-back Logan (hamstring) and striker May (ankle) sat out the friendly against the side from the United Arab Emirates’ second-tier. Logan and May are both expected to be fit for Saturday’s Scottish Cup tie.

McInnes said: “Shay probably could have played but we decided with the workload we put into him, he can put his football work in with the team during the week.”

With Dubai acting as a launch-pad back to fitness for players returning from injury, fresh knocks would have been disastrous.

Yet for the second year in succession the friendly in Dubai was marred by some late, reckless challenges from the opponents.

Last year the 2-0 loss to Uzbekistan champions Lokomotiv Tashkent was ill-tempered with bad tackles on Dons players.

There was deja-vu as the Reds were forced to walk an injury tightrope where an over-robust or mis-timed challenge could have caused damage.

McInnes reckons the referee should have taken control of the game early on.

He said: “The referee was better than last year. It was a young ref last year.

“It was more competitive than we probably wanted it as there were some really reckless tackles.

“I don’t know what that is, but it has been a pattern when we have come to games here.

“Thankfully we have come through the game without any real incident or any real injuries.

“It was quite a technical game to start with but then as soon as the first two or three go in (bad challenges) then that starts the ball rolling.

“The referee has to be strong and stamp that out early on, it is the same in any game.”

Aberdeen are set to return to the Granite City late tonight.

They will get tomorrow off before returning to full training on Wednesday.

McInnes said: “The players will be better for the match as the tempo of the game was decent.

“I do still think it is important that the players, after the work we put into them during the week, have that game to look forward to.

“We have always felt from the last game in December to the Scottish Cup tie when we go back that we need something in between.

“The game is not about the result really, it is just getting the players moving again and getting them into that 11 v 11 environment.”