Aberdeen gaffer Derek McInnes says defender Scott McKenna’s nod for PFA Young Player of the Year is “thoroughly deserved”.
McKenna, 21, has become in many ways the first name on the Aberdeen team-sheet this season, despite starting the campaign in relative obscurity, with his breakthrough culminating in two Scotland caps and the Dons captaincy in the Scottish Cup semi-final at Hampden.
McInnes said: “It’s without doubt thoroughly deserved.
“It’s good to see that recognition from journalists, other professionals, the players he plays against, his team-mates and opposition managers.
“Everybody can recognise a good player when they see one.
“It’s clear the development and improvement of Scott has been fantastic this year.
“Every little test he’s been asked – dealing with his first start, dealing with bigger games, dealing with the international set-up so seamlessly and confidently … He’s been absolutely fantastic and it’s great to see that improvement in him as he goes along.
“He’s in among some good players, but he deserves to be there.”
McKenna, who spent last season in the Championship at relegated Ayr United, will find out at the PFA Awards dinner in Glasgow on Sunday if he’s scooped the prize ahead of Celtic’s Kieran Tierney, Rangers’ Alfredo Morelos and St Mirren’s Lewis Morgan.
In contrast, Pittodrie boss McInnes expressed his surprise no Aberdeen goal – most notably a 40-yard McKenna piledriver against Kilmarnock at Pittodrie – was short-listed for Goal of the Season, the winner of which is decided by public vote.
McInnes said: “I’ve not seen the other goals, but we’ve scored some very good goals and McKenna’s is right up there.”