Evening Express

Aberdeen boss McInnes says in-form GMS deserves call up to the Scotland squad

Gary Mackay-Steven has stepped up as penalty taker in the early season

Dons boss Derek McInnes today insisted Gary Mackay-Steven should be in contention for a Scotland call-up.

Winger Mackay-Steven was instrumental in a 4-0 demolition of St Mirren in the Betfred Cup at Pittodrie.

The 27-year-old pitched in with two goals and an assist to set up an away quarter-final clash at Hibs.

Mackay-Steven has been capped just once when he featured as a late substitute in a 0-0 friendly draw with the USA at Hampden in November 2013.

Scotland face a Hampden double-header next month with World Cup semi-finalists Belgium first up on Friday September 7.

That friendly will be a warm-up for the UEFA Nations League opener against Albania the following Monday.

Albania will be Alex McLeish’s first competitive match since replacing Gordon Strachan as boss.

McInnes said: “I am sure Alex (McLeish) will be aware of who is doing well but Gary can certainly be at home in that environment. Gary is very confident at the minute.

“You want your wide players to score goals and provide assists.

“Gary did that against St Mirren with two goals and an assist.

“It was a very strong performance again from Gary who is enjoying his football.

“When he is in that mode, Gary normally impacts positively on results.”

Mackay-Steven netted the opener with a volley and then set up a goal for Graeme Shinnie.

The winger also won, and converted a penalty –his third goal from the spot already this season.

McInnes said: “When Gary is doing flicks, tricks and playing in that mode his confidence is sky high.

“And when his confidence is sky high he is difficult to deal with. Gary has four goals already and is a very good finisher.

“That is something we identified when we brought him to the club, that he is a calm finisher when he gets into good areas.”

Aberdeen blew away St Mirren despite being forced into a change just 20 minutes before kick-off when Niall McGinn was ruled out after picking up a calf injury in the warm-up.

Frank Ross was pitched in for his second Dons’ start and impressed.

McInnes said: “Frank Ross came in and was told at 2.40pm after Niall went down with his calf injury.

“In light of the injuries we have at the minute, it was the last thing we wanted. However, Frank was ready.

“He has a remarkable confidence which is really pleasing for me. Frank was very influential.

“It was an exceptional performance by the team and we imposed ourselves from the first kick-off.

“The movement, speed and intelligence of everyone was really pleasing –but especially at the top end of the pitch.”

Aberdeen are set to receive a quadruple boost for Saturday’s league trip to Hibs.

Right-back Shay Logan returns from suspension while on-loan Manchester United striker James Wilson is set to shrug off an ankle knock to make his debut on Saturday.

On-loan Watford defender Tommie Hoban and McGinn are also expected to be fit.

McInnes said: “Niall felt a tightness in the warm-up and it was impacting on his movement. If we have read that injury right it should be two or three days to settle down.

“We will, hopefully, have Niall available for next week along with Hoban, Logan and Wilson.”

Aberdeen were today set to discover the development compensation they will have to pay Hamilton for Lewis Ferguson.

An SPFL transfer tribunal was today deciding on the fee for the 18-year-old.

Aberdeen initially offered £100,000 but Accies want £1.25 million. The Reds are confident the fee will be closer to their valuation.

McInnes said: “We are looking forward to it.

“The tribunal should have been dealt with months ago and we have waited far too long.

“I don’t know the wisdom in that. We will speak more on it once the verdict is there on what we have to pay.”