Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes today hailed Scotland defender Scott McKenna as “outstanding” during pre-season.
However, he still aims to bolster the defence and has taken Polish centre-back Krystian Nowak in on trial.
Nowak is a free agent having recently terminated his contract with Greek side Panionios.
The 24-year-old is set to feature for the Dons as a trialist in Sunday’s friendly against Cove Rangers at Balmoral Stadium.
Former Polish Under-21 international Nowak spent 18 months at Hearts from August 2016 and made 21 starts. He moved to the Greek Superleague in January this year.
McInnes is keen to sign a defender before the Europa League second qualifying round first leg with Burnley at Pittodrie on July 26 and Nowak has been given the opportunity to impress and win a deal.
McInnes said: “We are having a look at Nowak for the next few days.
“The plan is for him to be involved at Cove on Sunday. He knows the club and Scottish football so we will see how it goes.”
The UEFA signing deadline for the Europa League second round is Friday July 20. However, there is special dispensation for two wildcard signings to be registered beyond that before 7pm on July 25 – 24 hours before the first leg.
McKenna and Mikey Devlin have impressed throughout pre-season as the centre-back partnership but McInnes still wants to secure competition and back-up in that area.
McKenna was the Reds’ player of the year last season and marked a breakthrough campaign by captaining Scotland in a 1-0 loss in Mexico this summer.
McInnes said: “Scott McKenna has hardly put a foot wrong since he came back and has been outstanding again.
“When you see some of the youngsters getting involved against St Johnstone (2-2 draw), Scott is the perfect example for them.
“It is not easy to stay in the team.
“It is not easy being able to play and be as strong as Scott is. There is a lot of work gets done Monday to Friday.
“There also has to be that confidence, determination and belief to make the most of what you have got.
“Scott certainly has that.
“To do what Scott has done there comes that steeliness – his personality and that determination that once he was in, nobody was getting his shirt.”
Centre-back Devlin is one of the Dons’ many injury concerns as he a groin problem.
With six players carrying injuries the Dons opted to cancel yesterday’s scheduled friendly at Inverness Caley Thistle.
Summer signing Stephen Gleeson sustained a knee injury in Sunday’s friendly at St Johnstone.
The 29-year-old underwent a scan on Tuesday and the Dons expect to know the extent of the injury within the next 24 hours. Also carrying injuries are summer signing Chris Forrester (groin), Sam Cosgrove (calf), Niall McGinn (thigh) and Frank Ross (groin).
Cosgrove and Forrester are expected to return to training tomorrow.
McInnes said: “We have ruled Gleeson out for Sunday (v Cove Rangers). We’ll have a better idea by the end of the week with Gleeson but hopefully we will get some good news on that front.
“We are a wee bit thin on the ground,” the boss added.
“That’s why we cancelled the friendly at Inverness.”
McInnes has signed three players this summer – Gleeson, Forrester and 18-year-old Lewis Ferguson.
As well as a defender he is also in the hunt for a striker and a back-up keeper before the Burnley clash.
Aberdeen had a bid rejected by Doncaster for John Marquis. The bid is understood to have been for £250,000.
McInnes confirmed that offer was the highest the Reds could go and they will move on to look at other centre-forward signing targets.
The Dons will also be in the market for a keeper as Danny Rogers has joined Premiership new boys St Mirren on loan for the coming season.
There is a new flexibility in the loan regulations which would allow the Dons to recall Rogers outwith the transfer window.
However, with U20 keepers David Craddock, 20, and Archie Mair, 17, having no first team experience, a back-up to No1 Joe Lewis will be needed.
Rogers, 24, signed a new two-year contract until 2020 last season.
When Lewis was injured at Ibrox in January, Rogers went on to start in league wins against Kilmarnock and Ross County.
However, McInnes then opted to bring in Newcastle United’s U20 World Cup winner Freddie Woodman on loan.
Woodman started the remaining games until Lewis returned from his knee injury.
McInnes said: “The move to St Mirren will offer Danny a real opportunity to gain Premiership experience, something which will be invaluable for his development.”
Meanwhile, the Dons’ Development Squad finished their pre-season training camp in Spain with a 1-1 draw against League One Southend United.
The Reds youngsters faced Southend’s first team in Alicante.
Amadou Ba opened the scoring for Southend before Miko Virtanen equalised for Aberdeen in the second half.
Sheerin said: “The players worked extra hard to get a result against a very good side.
“They now need to take that work ethic into every game, no matter who you are playing. “That same work ethic should be a given.
“All the lads have worked really hard in training.
“I am glad the way it went (v Southend) as it finished off a very good fortnight on a really positive note.”