Mikey Devlin has backed fellow Dons defender Scott McKenna to come back stronger than ever after his Rangers red card.
The 22-year-old centre-back was sent off against the Gers in last Wednesday’s 4-2 defeat at Pittodrie for kicking out at Alfredo Morelos after the Colombian had stamped on him.
It capped a tough night for McKenna, who was returning to the Aberdeen team following a hamstring problem.
In the first half the Scotland international conceded a penalty when the ball struck his raised arm at a free-kick as he appealed for offside.
McKenna missed the 4-1 Scottish Cup defeat of Queen of the South as he served the first match of a three-game suspension.
The defender will also miss Saturday’s home Premiership clash with St Mirren and the trip to St Johnstone on February 23.
Aberdeen opted not to appeal the red card and suspension.
Rangers appealed Morelos’s dismissal but the red card was upheld and the striker was also given a three-game suspension.
Morelos has now been sent off in all three games he has played against Aberdeen this season.
However, his red for an off-the-ball kick out at McKenna in the 1-1 draw at Pittodrie in August was rescinded on appeal.
Both McKenna and Morelos could potentially go head-to-head in the Scottish Cup quarter-finals at Pittodrie on the weekend of March 2 and 3, as the Reds were drawn to face the winners of the replay between the Ibrox club and Kilmarnock. Rangers host Killie in the replay next Wednesday.
When McKenna returns to action, for the midweek home clash against Hamilton just days before the quarter-final tie, defensive colleague and housemate Devlin says he won’t be affected by what happened against Rangers.
Devlin said: “Scott was disappointed and it’s just one of these things where he is still young and still learning. But he has been outstanding for us this season and this won’t affect him.
“He knows what happened in the game and it’s just one of those things that can happen to players at the top level where they make a mistake. He has been brilliant for us and a major part of the club’s success over the last year and a half.
“He needs to move on and focus on getting back in the team after his suspension.”
At 22, McKenna has achieved more than most footballers his age. He has become a Scotland regular and captained the Dark Blues last summer against Mexico in the Azteca Stadium. McKenna has also been touted for potential big-money moves to England and has taken it all in his stride.
Devlin sees a real maturity in the defender and that is one of the reasons why he is sure he will come back strongly.
Devlin added: “He’s very mature – he’s an old head on young shoulders. That is an old saying but it is very true with Scott.
“He doesn’t get too high when things are going well and doesn’t get too down when things aren’t going so well. He’s very self-critical. He looks at games and wants to be the best he can be.
“Nobody had to tell him anything after the Rangers game, he held his hands up and we move forward from that. Everybody has made mistakes – for Scott, it’s about focusing on the future.”
Devlin told the Evening Express last week how his mate McKenna helped keep his spirits up while he was out with a foot ligament injury sustained in November while training with Scotland.
As well as being close to McKenna, Devlin says the whole squad at Pittodrie is tight-knit and helps each other through difficult moments.
Devlin returned to action as a second-half sub against Queen of the South to end two months out. He said: “We all eat together, socialise outside of the club together and at the club we have breakfast and lunch together and spend a lot of time in the changing room.
“All these things can help create a tightness in the squad. It’s tough on the pitch and that’s when you need to call on your team-mate to help you and vice-versa. All these things stand you in good stead to be successful at the club.”