Aberdeen defender McKenna’s confidence growing with every game

Aberdeen's Scott McKenna in action.

Wanted man Scott McKenna warned now he has the Dons starting slot he is ready to fight to keep it as he bids for Scottish Cup glory.

The 21-year-old was subject to two bid from Hull City while the Dons were at their training camp in Dubai.

Both were knocked back and boss Derek McInnes warned the 21-year-old is not for sale this month.

McInnes accepts McKenna will eventually move on in a lucrative move but has big plans for him at Pittodrie first.

The Dons boss wants McKenna to rack up 150 starts and become a Scotland international before any talk of a move.

He has talked it through with the defender who has no problem with Hull’s advances being rejected.

McKenna signed a long- term contract last October until summer 2021 and has been a revelation since his breakthrough in September.

He is determined to retain his slot and is also targeting Scottish Cup glory with the Dons.

McKenna said: “I need to push on and I can’t let anyone take my first team spot.

“At the start of the season when you are not playing you just hope to get the chance and at that stage you think if I can get five games it has been a decent season.

“To have managed to stay in the team and get so many starts is good but I can’t rely on that.

“The manager has stood by me as well when we have had disappointing results that I have been involved in, not to drop me.

“I just need to thank him for that and can hopefully do that with my performances.

“I get confidence from the more games I play and hopefully that will keep happening.”

Dons boss McInnes is determined not to lose any first team players during the January transfer window.

Last January he successfully fended off two bids for Jonny Hayes from Cardiff City and is determined to have a similar hardline approach with any further offers.

Aberdeen have informed Hull McKenna is not for sale.

The Dons reached the final last season but lost 2-1 to Celtic after conceding an injury-time goal.

McKenna said: “The target has got to be to get to the Scottish Cup final again but ultimately you want to win the cup.

“It helps that our manager has experience of leading the club to the League Cup (in 2014).

“Now we want to go for that Scottish Cup.

“I was in the stand when they won the League Cup as that was my first year full-time at Aberdeen. For that final I was watching it with my family and it was great.

“To hopefully be involved and push towards a cup final is where you want to be.

“At such a young age it would be great to get to a final and win it.

“Obviously there are a lot of tough games along the way, starting with St Mirren, but that has to be the aim.”

McKenna missed out on the Scottish Cup final last season with the Dons as he was on loan at struggling Ayr United.

They eventually finished bottom of the Championship and were relegated to Scotland’s third tier.

It is a remarkable rise for McKenna, from Ayr United to first team regular, and a player highly sought after by a Championship club.

“I have had 15 starts out of the last 16 which is good but I just have to keep focusing on improving and getting better,” he said.

“I have to do that to keep my place in the team.”

The bids for McKenna from Hull City came while the Dons were out at a week- long warm weather winter training camp in Dubai.

It was the first time the defender had been to the United Arab Emirates as he missed last year’s trip due to the loan spell at Ayr.

The Dons trained hard and also had some time for rest. McKenna, who has a 15 handicap, played in the Reds’ golf day at the Arabian Ranches course.

He said: “Dubai was a great trip and it was good to get as it definitely helps us all to work and relax being together in the sun.

“Just training and being around each other all the time is far better than being back in the cold weather in Scotland.

“I was rooming with Dean Campbell who only got the call to come out early on Monday afternoon (they flew on Tuesday). I get on well with Dean and we play golf together in the summer.”

The trip to Dubai also offered the opportunity for new signing Chidi Nwakali to quickly settle into the squad following his loan move from Manchester City.

McKenna said: “The team spirit is strong anyway and Dubai only improved that even further.

“Training was better because the pitches and climate were better.

“Everything out in Dubai will hopefully help us for the second half of the season.”