I am surprised Aberdeen defender Scott McKenna has not had more plaudits for the performance he put in against Costa Rica.
Considering it was his first senior cap for the national side, there was only maybe one occasion in the first half where he looked a wee bit suspect.
If you put a young guy – McKenna’s only 21 – into an experimental team that didn’t play particularly well and he’s come out with a performance of that calibre, then he deserves a lot of credit.
I thought in the second half he was excellent in terms of understanding what’s required from a central defender – when to go deep into midfield and when to back off.
He was very strong in the air and generally very physical, and he used the ball extremely well.
He kept it simple with good short passing, but his passes were accurate and well-weighted.
Central defence is a position we’re crying out for talent in, so where is the euphoria?
I’m struggling to imagine why he’s not getting more headlines.
I’d like to see Hearts’ John Souttar get a chance as well in the next round of fixtures, as McKenna has done his chance of future caps no harm by playing the way he did.
Alex McLeish was talking about Grant Hanley not being available for the Hungary game with an injury problem.
He doesn’t have a lot to choose from, apart from Jack Hendry, so I think, if there are changes to the defensive line, then McKenna should be one who retains his place. Let’s see if he can build on the performance he put in on Friday night.
Having graduated to full international level, I don’t think it will be long until McKenna is playing in the Premier League down in England.
He’s recently signed on improved terms until 2023 at Pittodrie, meaning Aberdeen are in control of the situation. But, at the same time, McKenna’s development means he’s tailor-made for the English top flight. He’s big, strong, physical, quick and he can use the ball.
The demand is only going to get greater. For a team like Aberdeen, when the offer is realistic, they’ll have to let him go and give him his chance down there.
However, I’d like to see him in a Dons shirt for a bit longer, because his rise has been meteoric and it would be great to see more top-quality performances, not only in a dark blue shirt, but in a red one.
There is an example to follow for all young players in McKenna’s breakthrough.
People who understand football know players develop at different speeds and ages.
It’s really difficult.
Ryan Jack for me was one, at age 16, I thought: ‘he’ll be an international player’. But there are very few like that.
When I was involved in development at Aberdeen, there was nobody – Alex Ferguson, Jose Mourinho, Pep Guardiola – who would have looked at Scott McKenna or Ryan Fraser, age 16, and said they were destined for the top.
But they had some attribute or other that allowed you to keep developing them from one year to the next and then bang!
It’s testament to their attitudes they’re where they are and a lesson to any young player.