Winger Connor McLennan was today challenged to use his goalscoring impact with the Scotland Under-21s to kick-start his Aberdeen career this season.
The 19-year-old came off the bench to net twice late for the young Scots this week and secure a 2-1 European championship qualifier win in Croatia.
McInnes reckons McLennan, by the teen’s own admission, has had an inconsistent start to the season so far.
However, he wants McLennan to use the high of his international double as a catalyst to rediscover his top form.
And McInnes is convinced McLennan has the quality to be a regular first-team starter to follow up the momentum of his breakthrough last season.
McInnes said: “His goals for Scotland can give Connor a real boost.
“Connor was disappointing not to start, but what an impact he made when he came on.
“It was fantastic for Connor to score the goals in a very important win for the U21s.
“He came back to Pittodrie and everyone was giving him plenty of praise and support.
“Connor is feeling good about himself, which can hopefully kick-start his season which has been a bit stop-start by his own admission.
“He has had wee knocks here and there and had an operation in the summer to try to get him ready for the European games.
“Coming on the back of the win in Croatia, hopefully Connor uses this as a catalyst to go and kick on for us now.”
Aberdeen midfielder Lewis Ferguson started in Scotland U21s’ win in Croatia.
McLennan’s late double secured the victory that moved Scotland level on points with Greece in Group D after two games.
McLennan has started only one game for the Dons this season, the 1-0 league loss to St Mirren away, and has featured off the bench three times.
Last season he cemented a regular starting slot in the absence of winger Gary Mackay-Steven, who was ruled out for six weeks with concussion suffered in the League Cup final defeat to Celtic in early December.
McLennan came off the bench at Hampden to replace Mackay-Steven. He retained that starting spot for the next game, a 1-0 defeat of Rangers at Ibrox.
Mackay-Steven was also sidelined for a further 10 weeks from February with an ankle injury.
Mackay-Steven subsequently rejected the offer of a new Aberdeen deal to move to New York City as a free agent during the summer.
McInnes said: “Connor is a player I have high regard for and someone who is capable of cementing a first-team spot here on a regular basis.
“He is the type of player who has the potential to go and do what we want him to do.”