Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes today said Ronald Hernandez is ready to make an impact in the upcoming season.
The Venezuelan international full-back signed on at the Dons on January’s transfer deadline day for a significant six-figure sum.
Since arriving from Norwegian side Stabaek on a four-and-a-half-year deal, Hernandez has played just 72 minutes for the Dons.
Capped 15 times for his country, he arrived at Pittodrie having not played for two months because the Norwegian season finished on December 1.
McInnes admits it was a gamble securing the highly-rated right-back, 22, in the winter window due to the lack of recent game time.
In a frustrating start to Hernandez’s Dons career, just as he had reached full match sharpness the Covid-19 pandemic hit and football was shut down in Scotland from March 13.
After impressing in training McInnes reckons Ronnie is ready to rocket.
The boss said: “Ronnie has not missed a day’s training and has been attacking the work.
“He has been looking good and is very eager to get going in the new season.
“The difficultly Ronnie had is that he was a signing in January when there was an element of risk because it was two months since he had played a competitive game.
“We were mindful of that.
“The good thing for Ronnie this time around is that he is starting off at the same level as everybody else in pre-season.”
Hernandez arrived at Pittodrie with a strong pedigree having starred for Venezuela in the Copa America finals last summer.
The full-back started in the 0-0 draw with hosts Brazil in the group stages where he was part of a defence that kept out attacking talent such as Roberto Firmino (Liverpool), Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City), Philippe Coutinho (Real Madrid) and Casemiro (Real Madrid).
Brazil would go on to win the Copa America title, beating Peru 3-1 in the final.
Venezuela qualified for the knock-out stages by finishing in second place in a group that included both finalists, Brazil and Peru.
Hernandez started in the 2-0 quarter-final loss to Argentina where he faced up to six-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi (Barcelona) and Sergio Aguero (Manchester City).
Despite only featuring twice for the Dons since his move to Pittodrie, Hernandez was named in the preliminary 39-man squad to face Colombia (March 26) and Paraguay (March 31) in World Cup South America qualifiers in March.
However, those fixtures were cancelled when football was shut down worldwide.
Venezuela will now kick off their World Cup qualifying campaign away to Brazil on September 3 before hosting Chile on September 8.
Hernandez will hope to have a strong start to the season with Aberdeen to ensure his selection for those qualifiers.
Venezuela will also compete in the Copa America finals in Colombia next summer.
Following his deadline-day transfer to Pittodrie, Hernandez made his debut five days later when starting in the 1-0 midweek loss to St Johnstone at Pittodrie on February 5.
He next featured for the Dons when coming off the bench in the 3-1 defeat of Hibs on March 7.
That was Aberdeen’s final match, derailing any chance of building momentum for Hernandez in his debut season.
McInnes added: “Ronnie has been very eager to show himself, which is great.
“Hopefully he has an opportunity to show all his qualities in an Aberdeen shirt this season.”