Crowned Scotland’s top young talent, Lewis Ferguson has now set his sights on earning a senior cap for his country.
He accepts there are English Premier League stars ahead of him in the international pecking order, but the bid to edge ahead of them doesn’t scare Ferguson.
The 20-year-old scooped the Double Tree By Hilton Scottish Football Writers’ Association Young Player of the Year award for the 2019-20 season.
It was deserved recognition for a campaign where Ferguson was the heart of the Aberdeen team and showed a maturity well beyond his age.
Already capped at Under-21 level, he hopes to break into Steve Clarke’s senior side, ideally in time for the Euro play-offs which UEFA have pencilled in for September.
He said: “Something I want to do in my career is play for Scotland.
“There are a lot of good Scottish midfielders at the moment.
“There are boys playing in the Premier League week in, week out, and there are boys playing in Scotland, playing with the likes of Rangers and Celtic, who are doing well.
“So it will be tough to try to get into that squad because it is really good players.
“But it is not something that scares me. I’ll keep working as hard as possible and if and when the time comes to be called up, it will be a great honour.
“But at the moment I’m just focusing on getting back training with Aberdeen and seeing everyone again.
“I’m just dying to kick the ball and play some games. That is my main focus for now – to get back playing for Aberdeen first before I think of any internationals.”
Ferguson secured the prestigious award ahead of short-listed Ali McCann (St Johnstone), Aaron Hickey (Hearts) and Allan Campbell (Motherwell).
The midfielder is the first Aberdeen player to win the SFWA Young Player of the Year honour which was first awarded in 2002.
He said: “I’d like to congratulate the other boys who were nominated. They had great seasons as well.
“Although it’s an individual award, I’ve got to also recognise the manager, the coaching staff and the boys I’ve been playing with.
“Without any of them I wouldn’t have got it. So I want to thank them and the people who voted for me. I’m delighted.”
Have you listened to this week’s Northern Goal podcast yet? We discuss whether a move to bring Jonny Hayes back to Aberdeen would mean no permanent deal for Greg Leigh:
Secured in summer 2018 for £175,000 in training compensation from Hamilton, the midfielder is one of the bargain buys in Scotland in recent years.
Ferguson was short-listed for the award last year, but lost out to Motherwell’s David Turnbull.
The Pittodrie midfielder believes he has improved over the last year and is determined to maintain that upward trend.
He said: “I keep trying to progress. I had a good first season so I just wanted to kick on and be better. That was my aim, to try to make myself a better player.”
Ferguson was given added responsibility in the heart of midfield due to long-term injuries to summer signings Funso Ojo (hamstring tear) and Craig Bryson (ankle).
He said: “I had a lot more responsibility on my shoulders compared to two seasons ago.
“I had Graeme Shinnie in there who I played every game with.
“He’s an experienced guy and it’s easier when you’re alongside someone who’s played at that level for many years. So there was added responsibility and pressure last year because Bryson and Funso suffered injuries.
“That responsibility was going to come at some point in my career so I took it on the chin and used that experience to try to make myself a better player, a better talker and a better reader of the game on the pitch.
“I was playing alongside boys who maybe weren’t natural midfielders or Dean (Campbell), who’s younger than me. It was a good experience having that added responsibility.
“Last season I thought was better.
“There are small details in games and that little bit of know-how can get you through.
“Obviously I’m still young just now, but I was young and everything was kind of new to me. The added experience helped me.”