Aberdeen defender Scott McKenna has been backed to bounce back from the “crushing blow” of his season-ending injury.
The 22-year-old looks set to miss the rest of the campaign having suffered a hamstring tear in the 2-0 Scottish Cup quarter-final win over St Mirren in Paisley.
McKenna will not only miss Aberdeen’s bid for Scottish Cup glory and European qualification, but will also sit out Scotland’s Euro 2020 play-offs this month.
The 14-cap centre-back would surely have started for Steve Clarke’s side in the semi-final against Israel at Hampden on Thursday March 26.
Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes is confident the defender has the mental strength to emerge from what will be a testing period and will attack his rehabilitation.
McInnes said: “It is a crushing blow for Scott that his football is taken away from him.
“Scott wanted to be a cup-winner and help us finish in Europe
“In the main a run-of-the-mill hamstring tear is something you can be quite specific on in terms of time and how you work towards it. Scott has had his hamstring issues before, but this is a bit out of the norm
“It is more the tendon coming off the bone.
“This will be the injury that keeps Scott out the longest.
“Scott plays with a real focus and everything he does through his training is done at 100%.
“He has the strength of character and sees the bigger picture.
“Scott sees how important it is to just attack the work rather than sit about, mope and feel sorry for yourself. Thankfully he is made of good stuff.”
McKenna was forced off in the second half of the cup tie having pulled up when chasing a ball.
McInnes said the defender’s injury was similar to the one suffered by midfielder Funso Ojo that ruled the Belgian out for three months.
McInnes believes Ojo’s recovery can be an inspiration to the Scotland international defender.
He said: “The injury is almost exactly like Funso’s.
“Funso was injured in September and came back towards the end of December so missed a fair chunk of football.
“Funso is now coming out the other side of it and can hopefully play a pivotal role in finishing the season strongly.
“Unfortunately for us, the timescale makes it very tight for Scott being back playing for us this season again.
“He is not ruled out, because everybody reacts differently to their rehabilitation.
“However, that type of injury would normally keep you out the best part of three to four months. But Scott has been a good healer in the past, so you never know.”
It is the second time this season McKenna has been sidelined with a hamstring injury.
The centre-back was out for six weeks having torn a hamstring in the 0-0 draw with Kilmarnock on the artificial surface at Rugby Park on August 24.
He missed Scotland’s Euro 2020 qualifiers against Russia and Belgium.
On confirmation on the severity of McKenna’s injury McInnes contacted Tommie Hoban and invited the defender to train with the Dons. Hoban has been out for a year having suffered a cruciate ligament injury that required surgery last February.
Hoban has trained with Aberdeen for the last two days and it is understood the defender will be offered a deal if he proves hit fitness.
Hoban is a free agent having been released by the Hornets.
Leyton Orient were reportedly interested in Hoban but the League Two club’s coach Ross Embleton confirmed the Republic of Ireland cap is not on his radar.
McInnes said: “I cannot pretend otherwise, that Scott’s injury is not a big blow for us.
“Having those key performances from players like Scott were going to be so important to us.
“But we are going to have to deal with it as we are in the business end of the season.
“The strength in the squad is getting stronger and we are starting to get a bit of bulk there.
“Players are getting fit and it is just about them getting up to that match fitness.”