With Graeme Shinnie out of Sunday’s Scottish Cup semi-final due to suspension Derek McInnes didn’t have to look far for a replacement captain.
Scott McKenna will skipper the Dons against Celtic at Hampden this weekend as they bid to reach the final of the Scottish Cup.
He may only be 22, but McKenna already has leadership experience and was the obvious choice for Reds gaffer McInnes.
The centre-back was captain when Shinnie was suspended for last season’s Scottish Cup semi-final against Motherwell (3-0 loss).
Last June McKenna skippered Scotland in the famous Azteca Stadium in the 1-0 friendly defeat to Mexico.
McInnes knows he will be up to the task of trying to lead the Dons to semi-final success at the national stadium on Sunday.
He said: “I think for me there were a couple of options for it.
“But he is someone that deals with that well. In Graeme’s absence before he has dealt with things like tickets for the boys in the dressing room and stuff like that.
“He is well thought of within the dressing room and he is the right type of person.
“It could have been a number of people – but I feel Scott is a good option for me.
“He’s fine, it doesn’t phase him and I think that plays out in his performances.
“Whether it’s been for us or for Scotland when he has been thrown into tough games and big games he has been a big performer.
“And he is somebody that has shown a capability of dealing with any situation that is thrown at him.”
Reds skipper Shinnie misses the clash with the Hoops due to yellow cards picked up earlier in this season’s Scottish Cup.
Both were against Rangers, in the first quarter-final tie at Pittodrie and then Aberdeen’s 2-0 win at Ibrox in the replay.
In terms of replacing Shinnie, experienced Irishman Stephen Gleeson or homegrown teenager Dean Campbell seem the most likely alternatives.
McInnes added: “We’ve known for a while that Graeme was unavailable for this game.
“So I don’t see any mileage or any merit in dwelling over it. He is a big influence on the team, but his influence won’t be there on Sunday.
“However, we have enough players who can come in and deal with that and have an influence on the team.
“Hopefully we can get to a final and have Graeme back with us for that.
“We’ll look at the options and look to see how everybody is.
“The obvious replacements in terms of midfielders are Stephen and Dean.
“But there are other options as well and we’ll look at everything and decide how best to set up.”
Although unable to contribute on the park against Celtic, Shinnie will have a role in the dressing room on Sunday.
“We’ve given him a few days off, but he will be in on Saturday,” McInnes said.
“He will train and then travel with the team and he will be in the dressing room on Sunday.
“It’s where he wants to be and he wants to try to help the team in any way, shape or form.
“Certainly having him there will do us no harm.”
McKenna may be Shinnie’s replacement to wear the armband against Celtic in the last four.
But McInnes did have other options and he believes the dressing room at Pittodrie is full of players with leadership qualities.
He said: “This season we’ve had great resilience in the team.
“I remember the game after we lost the League Cup final to Celtic (1-0 at the beginning of December).
“We went to Ibrox in the league (1-0 win) and then Sam Cosgrove was sent off. We had to play for almost an hour with 10 men, there was fatigue there from the cup final on Sunday.
“But I watched the likes of Lewis Ferguson and Connor McLennan just grow in the game.
“When more was needed in that game the players gave more.
“That tells me a lot about the people I have at the club and a lot about the team I have.”