Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes will not stop Aberdeen players starring for their country during the pandemic, despite concerns over Covid-19 protocols.
McInnes is livid that three of his players are ruled out due to the fallout of the Covid chaos hitting the Scotland Under-21 squad.
While he will not pull the plug on international involvement, McInnes has called for the SFA to improve their coronavirus protocols before the next internationals in March.
Midfielder Ross McCrorie registered a positive test when returning from duty with the U21s for Euro qualifiers with Greece and Croatia.
Pittodrie team-mates Lewis Ferguson and Connor McLennan were also with the U21s, but tested negative.
Yet Ferguson and McLennan were ruled out of the 4-0 defeat to Rangers as they were isolated as close contacts.
A member of U21 coach Scot Gemmill’s backroom staff didn’t travel for their final Euro qualifier in Athens after returning a positive test a week ago.
It is understood the staff and squad were not then tested to ensure the virus hadn’t spread before they jetted out to Greece.
From that U21 squad Celtic’s David Turnbull and McCrorie’s brother Robby have also tested positive, while eight players in total are self-isolating.
Yesterday it was confirmed a further two non-playing staff have tested positive.
One of the consequences of these new positives is Shelley Kerr, head coach of Scotland’s women’s side, who will have to isolate as a close contact, meaning she will miss the Euro qualifiers against Portugal and Finland in the coming days.
SFA chief executive Ian Maxwell has promised a “thorough review” of the U21 coronavirus protocols.
McInnes said: “We would never stop them going away, as I want them to do that.
“We stopped a couple of members of staff who were asked to go away.
“We said ‘no’ just because it increases the risk.
“Graham Kirk (head of sports science and fitness) was asked to go away with the Scotland U21s.
“However, we as a club and myself didn’t want staff to go away because of the obvious additional risk of that. We would never stop our players.
“I know it is still a while away, in March, but I would like to think that before the next get-together that maybe not just us, but all clubs, can feel a bit more comfortable with their players going away.”
McInnes has called for mandatory testing from the SFA on all players returning from international duty.
Aberdeen discovered McCrorie had contracted the virus only because the Dons tested all three players when they returned to the club’s Cormack Park training complex.
He said: “The SFA just deliver the news and then you have to deal with it.
“That is what sticks in managers’ throats. It is not just me, there’s a lot of managers out there unhappy at the attitude really of having to just deal with it.
“We will take your players and you deal with the consequences. The expense of all of this has fallen on the clubs.
“I think it should be incumbent on the SFA to protect our game.”
McCrorie was already ruled out of the match at Ibrox due to the terms of his loan from parent club Rangers.
However, the loss of Ferguson and McLennan came as a further blow, with McInnes already hit by an injury crisis.
Jonny Hayes, Niall McGinn, Dylan McGeouch and on-loan Bristol City attacker Marley Watkins were ruled out by injury.
McInnes then suffered another setback when in-form attacker Scott Wright was ruled out on Friday with a groin problem.
No injured player is expected to return for tomorrow’s fixture against bottom-of-the-table Hamilton Accies.
McCrorie, pictured below, has to self-isolate for 10 days with Ferguson and McLennan self-isolating for 14 days. All three will miss Hamilton and Saturday’s League Cup trip to St Mirren.
McInnes said: “Scott Wright has an issue with his groin and he felt it on Friday.
“We had him scanned and are hoping it is going to settle quickly.
“I don’t think it will settle for Hamilton, though.
“However, we are hoping we can get two or three back for the St Mirren game on Saturday.
“But I don’t think we will have anyone back for Hamilton.
“We had 16 days without a game then we have three games in six days with a tight squad.
“Now we knuckle down and go to Hamilton to try to take advantage of the game in hand and pick up three points.”
The Rangers game marked the first-team debut of rising star Ryan Duncan at the age of just 16 years and 309 days.
McInnes is confident the Scotland U17 international has a bright future at Aberdeen.
He said: “Ryan has been doing well and I am delighted for him to make his debut at such a young age.”