It took less than 48 hours for Watford defender Tommie Hoban to prove why Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes was so keen to bring him to Pittodrie.
McInnes secured the 24-year-old on a season-long loan deal from the Premier League Hornets on the eve of the Europa League clash with Burnley.
Hoban and keeper Tomas Cerny were the two “wildcard” signings registered before 11pm on the day before the second qualifying round first leg.
The late call off from left-back Andy Considine through illness at 5pm on the day of the tie meant a baptism of fire for Hoban, who made not just his Dons debut but his debut in Europe.
As McInnes expected, Hoban rose to the challenge and produced a superb performance in the 1-1 draw at Pittodrie.
He has surely pushed himself to the forefront to start against Burnley at Turf Moor for the return leg on Thursday.
And McInnes is confident Hoban. who has suffered injury setbacks in recent seasons, will be a “brilliant” player for the Reds in the upcoming season.
He said: “Tommie was thrown in at left-back against Burnley and was outstanding.
“He was brilliant considering it was five o’clock when he was told he would be playing at left-back because we took a phone call that Considine was ill.
“I am confident Tommie will go on to be a brilliant player for us and prove to be a great signing.
“He is one that we have put a lot of work into getting.
“We thought the opportunity had come and gone at the back end of last week, which brought a real sense of frustration as everybody had put so much work into it, Tommie included.
“Thankfully I got the call on Tuesday morning after training that Watford had reassessed and agreed for him to come.
“We are thankful to Watford for allowing that to happen.”
Hoban may have been pitched in at left-back against the Clarets but can play in any of the positions across a back four – utilised by McInnes with a 4-5-1 against Burnley.
However, the Reds boss insists Hoban was signed as a right-sided centre back – one of the key positions, along with striker, he had targeted as needing to be filled before that UEFA registration deadline. The ~hunt for a striker continues.
McInnes said: “Tommie is a centre-half first and foremost but can fill in at both full-back areas.
“Tommie can actually play in midfield at times as well but that is not where we see him.
“He can play right of a three, he can play central in a four and left of a three.
“Tommie has played in both full-back roles.
“He can play anywhere in the back four, but predominately he gives that competition, assurance and size at centre-back
“He is a good footballer and one that has had his injuries to contend with. But he is definitely a player destined to have a very good career if he gets a bit of luck with his injuries.”
Injuries have stalled the momentum of a career that began with a first team appearance with Watford at the age of just 16.
He was a transfer target for Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea three years ago before a series of injury problems hit.
The latest was a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament in pre-season training last summer that required surgery and ruled him out for the entire campaign.
McInnes said: “Tommie is very confident, assured and handles the ball very well.
“He is a modern centre-back and if given any luck at all this season in terms of his injuries will go on and prove his worth.”
Centre-back Mikey Devlin made his competitive debut for the Dons against Burnley having been out for a year with a cruciate ligament injury. He signed from Hamilton in January and continued his rehabilitation with the Pittodrie medical staff.
Defender Mark Reynolds has also been ruled out for up to seven months having undergone knee surgery last week.
McInnes said: “We had bad news that Mark Reynolds is out for a considerable time.
“Signing Tommie was good timing because we had Logan, McKenna, Considine and Devlin available in the building so it was necessary for us to address that.
“Injuries are part and parcel of the game and it happens.
“I’ve backed Mikey (Devlin) and I back Tommie to show they’re good players.”
McInnes also secured keeper Cerny, 33, on a season-long contract. The 33-year-old was a free agent having left Partick Thistle. Cerny was on the bench for the Euro tie against Burnley and started in yesterday’s friendly win at Arbroath.
McInnes said: “Tomas brings that comfort in between a young goalkeeper and Joe Lewis.
“We are delighted to get him in although it was obviously accelerated by young David Craddock’s injury at Inverurie on Monday night.
“It looks like he will be out for a wee while with his knee.
“Tomas was still one that we kept a wee eye on.
“He knows that it will be difficult to play because of Joe but Tomas has accepted that.
“The most important thing for us was to allow Danny Rogers to go and get games and experience.
“The last thing Danny needed was another year of sitting on the bench.”