Evening Express

Swansea target McKenna not fazed by Burnley’s Turf Moor in Europa League after playing at Azteca

Aberdeen training at Pittodrie this morning. Scott McKenna, centre Picture by Darrell Benns

Burnley’s Turf Moor will hold no fear for Dons defender Scott McKenna after captaining Scotland against Mexico in front of 71,000 at the Azteca.

The Premier League Clarets are unlikely to sell out the stadium for the Europa League second qualifying round tomorrow.

Aberdeen will be backed by a 2,400-strong travelling Red Army that quickly snapped up their ticket allocation.

Leading his country out aged just 21 in one of the world’s iconic, and largest stadiums, didn’t faze the centre-back.

Neither will facing Burnley tomorrow in a game the Dons must score in having conceded in the 1-1 draw at Pittodrie in the first leg.

McKenna said: “I zone out and just focus on the game and my job no matter where I am playing.

“When I came out with Scotland against Mexico, the hairs on the back of my neck stood up as there were thousands and thousands of Mexico fans – it was ridiculous.

“Then up near the roof somewhere you could see a few hundred Scotland supporters.

“It was an unbelievable atmosphere.

“I am sure it will be the same at Burnley in the second leg.

“Obviously, Turf Moor is a smaller stadium than the Azteca but it will still be nearly full and a great atmosphere.

“However, once the game starts the atmosphere at a stadium is something I don’t really notice.”

McKenna’s remarkable ascent from breaking into the Dons squad last season to captaining his country has not gone unnoticed with Swansea City reportedly set to table a bid of £3-4 million.

Aberdeen had already knocked back a bid in excess of £1m from Hull City for McKenna in January.

It was recently reported the Dons are ready to play hard-ball with any other approaches and will demand up to £10m for the highly-rated defender who is contracted until 2023.

McKenna revealed the first time he heard about the reported price tag was when his team-mates ribbed him about being the “£10 million man”.

He insists any speculation on his future will not derail him from helping the Dons to success this season.

On the £10m tag, he said: “I didn’t even see that to be honest. the first time I heard about it was when I was in the changing room and the boys were winding me up, saying there is no chance.

“It is not something that bothers me.

“People can write what they want – I don’t know if there is any truth in that.

“It is not going to affect me.

“No matter who it is if you put in a few good performances there will be talk.

“And most of it is probably rubbish.

“I don’t concentrate on anything like that, I just concentrate on my performances here playing for Aberdeen.

“If something does come in the next few years then we will wait and see what happens.”

The key phrase here is “next few years” as McKenna is very much focused on Aberdeen, starting with the Euro clash against Burnley tomorrow.

Turf Moor will mark his first Euro action away from home as although he has travelled to games abroad with the Dons before, he has never played.

Boss Derek McInnes even took the defender to an away Euro tie when he suffered a heart scare and was out for three months.

A routine scan in 2015 revealed his heart was unusually enlarged.

After a follow-up MRI scan he was ordered to detrain for 12 weeks and faced a nervous sweat on his football career before being given the all-clear.

McKenna is grateful that McInnes kept him involved by taking him overseas.

He said: “I was out with my heart for one European away game but the manager was good enough to take me away, so I could just enjoy the experience.

“I just helped out the staff and even though I wasn’t involved I still learned a lot.

“Playing away in Europe is something I have always wanted to do as a footballer.

“I went across to the Bosnian game (Siroki Brijeg) last year but didn’t go to Apollon Limassol in Cyprus as I was injured.”

Having scored an away goal at Pittodrie it is advantage Burnley for the return tomorrow – just.

Aberdeen’s target for the campaign was to reach the lucrative group stages and land the £3m-plus payments.

That became more precarious when they landed the Clarets, arguably the toughest possible draw.

A potential route wasn’t made any easier when the draw threw up Turkey’s Istanbul Basaksehir in the third qualifying round.

Basaksehir have stars like former Manchester City and Arsenal striker Emmanuel Adebayor and on-loan Barcelona midfielder Arda Turan.

McKenna said: “We previously came in during the earlier rounds and maybe the teams weren’t so good.

“But this competition always builds up to some very good teams such as Spanish side Real Sociedad.

“Burnley was probably one of the toughest draws we could have got this year but we just have to deal with it.

“It is the kind of tie you want to be involved in.”