Scott McKenna reckons playing for Scotland Under-21s helped him attract the attention of Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes.
The centre-back has played in the Dons’ last three games – wins against Motherwell at Fir Park (1-0), St Johnstone at Pittodrie (3-0) and Hibernian at Easter Road (1-0) on Saturday.
McKenna was given his opportunity on September 24 against the Steelmen after the Lanarkshire side had beaten the Reds 3-0 in the League Cup three days earlier.
Prior to being thrown into the Aberdeen first team McKenna had impressed for the young Scots in a 2-0 win against Holland in a Euro 2019 qualifier on September 5.
That was the 20-year-old’s debut for the Dark Blues at U21 level.
And he believes the showing against the Dutch helped him get in the first team reckoning for Aberdeen and attract the attention of Pittodrie boss McInnes.
McKenna said: “I think that game benefited me in terms of getting the manager’s attention.
“In the Holland game I played quite well and it showed the manager what I could do, and I’ve had a couple of games since.
“The manager spoke to me about the game and said what he thought I could have done better and what he thought I did well.
“He analysed it quite thoroughly and we both discussed the game, which was good.
“It’s definitely one of the games I’ve kicked on from. “I’ve started the last three internationals and games in the Premiership.”
McKenna won 14 caps for Scotland U19s between 2013 and 2015.
But after a difficult loan spell at struggling Ayr United last season and then starting this season playing for Aberdeen’s U20s, he was ecstatic to be included in Scot Gemmill’s U21 squad for the game against Holland.
He added: “I’d just been playing U20s and hadn’t been involved in the Scotland squads for a couple of years, so to see I was in the squad, I was delighted with that.
“And then to start and do well against Holland and keep my place in the team has been excellent for me.”
During the last international break McKenna was again turning out for the Dark Blues.
He started both qualifiers, a 3-1 loss to England in Middlesbrough and a 2-0 victory in Latvia which leaves the Scots second in their qualifying group.
McKenna is enjoying his experience at national level and feels he has learned a lot from playing with the U21s that he can take into matches with Aberdeen.
In the Scotland squad he played alongside the likes of West Bromwich Albion’s Oliver Burke.
While against England he lined up against the likes of Everton’s Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Swansea’s Tammy Abraham and Dominic Solanke of Liverpool
McKenna said: “It was a great experience playing against a good England team with loads of players who play in the Championship or the Premier League down south.
“It wasn’t a great result for us but the main thing is that we got the three points away to Latvia and we are sitting nicely in the group.
“I am enjoying it, I’m taking confidence from the games I’m playing in.
“Every time we’re away I’m training with good players.
“There’s a lot of good players in our squad, Oliver Burke and the boy Lewis Morgan has been doing really well.
“John Souttar has played over 100 games in the SPL and I’m playing alongside him, so it’s brilliant.
“The England players are at a far higher level than I’ve played at.
“So you just try to learn from playing against them and then bring it back into games here at Aberdeen.
“You’re always learning in every game you play, it’s different players and different surroundings.
“You take it in and hopefully use it to your advantage.”
McKenna also hopes he may be able to help Scotland qualify for the Euros which will be held in Italy in 2019.
He is pleased with their start to the campaign, and with two homes games against Latvia and Ukraine to come in November he believes they can make more progress.
“Every single one of us want to work for each other to try to get to a tournament,” he said.
“There are seven games left before we even get anywhere near a tournament.
“But the more points we can get on the board now the better it will be for us in the future.
“Six points out of nine, you would probably have taken that at the start.
“We have two games coming up at home, so we’ll be looking to do well in them as well.”