Aberdeen defender Scott McKenna was gutted when Alex McLeish was axed as Scotland boss but reckons the SFA got the appointment of his successor spot on.
McLeish was sacked as national boss in April after just 12 games in charge. He paid the price for a disastrous 3-0 Euro 2020 qualifying campaign loss to Kazakhstan.
Having resurrected Kilmarnock Steve Clarke was drafted in as replacement on a three-year contract and will lead the Scots against Cyprus tomorrow and Belgium on Tuesday.
McLeish handed McKenna his Scotland debut and the Dons centre-back won more caps than any other player during his second tenure as Scotland manager.
Having retained his position in the Scotland squad, and likely his starting spot, under Clarke the 22-year-old is determined to impress the new manager.
McKenna said: “Alex McLeish was the man who gave me my first Scotland call-up and my first cap so I was gutted to see him leave.
“Every game I was in the squad I managed to get on the park so I am thankful to Alex for that.
“I was disappointed when he left but now it is up to me to try to prove myself to the new Scotland manager that I am good enough.”
McKenna started in the disastrous loss in Kazakhstan that delivered a major dent to qualification hopes and fatally holed McLeish’s position as manager.
The SFA waited almost a month from the 2-0 defeat of San Marino to axe McLeish and then took their time to appoint his successor.
Clarke was the outstanding candidate having collected the PFA Scotland and the Scottish Football Writers’ Association manager of the year accolades.
When Clarke arrived at Kilmarnock in October 2017 they were bottom of the Premiership.
When he left for Scotland at the end of the recent season he had led them to a third place finish and European qualification.
It was the first time Killie had finished in the top three since 1966.
On the SFA appointing Clarke, McKenna said: “I was delighted. We had all seen what he did with Kilmarnock and we hope he can bring that to us.
“Kilmarnock punched above their weight and hopefully we can do that, too.
“Kilmarnock were always hard to break down.
“Obviously keeping clean sheets is a great platform to try to do well in campaigns and with that implemented hopefully we can do that in the games coming up.”
Former Aberdeen captain Graeme Shinnie is also in the Scotland squad. The midfielder rejected the offer of a new Pittodrie deal to sign on at Championship Derby County on a three-year contract.
McKenna said: “Graeme has been so good for the club over the last few seasons.
“When we were without him either through suspension or injury it was always a massive loss for us. However, I am sure the manager will have a replacement ready for him during the summer.”
International duty will reduce the summer break for McKenna and Aberdeen team-mate Mikey Devlin.
McKenna will get just two weeks off before returning for pre-season training with the Dons in the final week of this month.
Aberdeen will travel to Cork in the Republic of Ireland for a week-long training camp where they will play Connor’s Quay Nomads in a friendly on Saturday June 29.
Aberdeen enter the Europa League at the first qualifying round stage on Thursday July 11.
McKenna said: “Europe is something for us all to look forward to when we come back from the summer for pre-season training.
“It is great to play in Europe.”