When Aberdeen’s Graeme Shinnie and Scott McKenna were named in the latest Scotland squad it barely raised an eyebrow.
The Dons duo are now established members of Alex McLeish’s national team set-up.
When the Gothenburg Great was selecting the group to take on Kazakhstan tomorrow in Astana and San Marino in Serravalle on Sunday, Shinnie and McKenna were two near certainties.
For Dons boss Derek McInnes there is pride that players from Pittodrie are now expected to make international squads because there was a time when it didn’t always happen.
During Gordon Strachan’s Scotland tenure, the consistently strong performances of Aberdeen players like Shinnie, Kenny McLean and Mark Reynolds were largely overlooked.
Now, though, Shinnie and McKenna have become squad regulars, with the former now having five caps, while the latter has earned eight caps and also skippered the Dark Blues last summer in a friendly against Mexico in the Azteca Stadium.
Shinnie is in contention to face Kazakhstan tomorrow, however, McKenna is a doubt.
The centre-back has travelled to Astana, but has thigh tightness.
He may play, but it is more likely he will be available for San Marino on Sunday, rather than tomorrow’s clash.
McInnes is pleased to see his players become established in the national set-up.
The Pittodrie gaffer said: “That Shinnie and McKenna are now expected really to be in the squads is as pleasing as anything for me.
“There was a time when we were just hoping rather than having any expectation that our players would be involved when squads were announced.
“It had been like that for a while, but now it is different.
“We had a few on the standby list and we were hoping we would have more in than Shinnie and McKenna.
“But both those boys are nailed on to be in that squad now, which is great to see. It is also recognition of their consistency for Aberdeen.”
Although there is a pride for McInnes in having players involved with Scotland, there is also the worry his charges return having picked up injuries.
The Dons lost centre-back Mikey Devlin for almost three months earlier this season after an ankle injury sustained in November during training with Scotland.
McInnes added: “I’m pleased we’ve got players going on international duty. We’ve got pride, but there’s still that bit of dread for us with players being away about them potentially getting injured.
“Obviously any player that is away on international duty is a very important player for us.
“That goes right through the age groups right the way up to the senior team.
“So it’s great that our players are recognised at international level.
“But we just need to make sure they come back in a positive frame of mind and free from injury.”
McInnes also believes seeing Shinnie and McKenna in the Scotland set-up gives other players in his Aberdeen squad something to aspire to.
Earlier this term, Devlin was in the squad for the UEFA Nations League clashes with Albania and Israel before having to pull out due to injury, while winger Gary Mackay-Steven played in October’s 3-1 friendly defeat to Portugal and McInnes has said previously midfielder Lewis Ferguson – currently on Under-21 duty – should aim to make the step-up to the senior squad.
McInnes said: “When there is evidence that you can be a full international at Aberdeen it gives others something to aim for.
“It takes away that argument that maybe existed in the past about maybe needing to leave to be an international.
“The evidence is there now with Shinnie and McKenna.”