Scott McKenna has thanked former club Aberdeen for helping him to prepare for the European Championships.
The ex-Dons defender is in the 26-man squad for the national team’s first major tournament appearance since 1998.
After finishing his campaign with Nottingham Forest on May 1 McKenna returned to the Granite City and trained at Cormack Park ahead of being named in Steve Clarke’s Euro squad.
The 24-year-old is now in Alicante as the Scots gear up for the finals with a training camp and friendlies against the Netherlands on Wednesday and Luxembourg on Sunday.
McKenna is grateful that Aberdeen – who he left last September in a £3million deal – allowed him to use their training facilities.
He said: “I managed to play 10 out of the last 11 games which was a good run for me in what was a bit of a stop-start season.
“Obviously I have had a couple of weeks off. I was back in Aberdeen training myself.
“I am just looking forward to coming in and training with the group again and hopefully impressing the manager as much as I can.
“Between Scotland and Forest, they gave me a programme I had to stick to.
“Aberdeen were good enough to let me go in and use their facilities once their season had finished.
“They have a good gym and good facilities to use. It was very kind of them considering the trouble I’ve caused them over the years!”
Disappointment for Considine, Jack and McLean
Three of McKenna’s former Aberdeen team-mates who have been in recent Scotland squads have all missed out on the Euros.
Midfielders Ryan Jack (calf) and Kenny McLean (knee) are out due to injury, while defender Andy Considine was overlooked by boss Clarke.
McKenna hopes Scotland can do those players proud with their performances this summer.
He bumped into his old colleague Considine last week at Cormack Park and could sense his disappointment.
McKenna said: “All the lads have all contributed a huge amount and we are obviously gutted they are not here with us.
“They were big characters and big personalities within the squad as well. So it is very disappointing.
“All we can do for them is try and put in good performances and get good results and just make their efforts in qualifying more worthwhile.
“I actually bumped in to him (Considine) on the Tuesday or the Wednesday at Cormack Park and was speaking away to him.
“He was obviously disappointed, but he wished us all the best and wishes the squad all the best.
“He is definitely very grateful for the chance he had. He got three caps in the last six months. He is grateful for that, but I have no doubts he is very disappointed to miss out on such a big camp this summer.”
Euros bow would be highlight for McKenna
After the warm-up matches against Holland and Luxembourg Scotland start their Euro campaign against the Czech Republic on June 14 at Hampden before clashes with England at Wembley on June 18 and Croatia at Hampden on June 22.
McKenna has won 16 senior international caps since his debut in 2018, but says starting at the European Championships would be a career highlight.
He said: “Obviously it would mean a lot to me. It would probably be the best moment in my career. But I don’t want to look too far ahead.
“I just want to get through the 10 days here, try and impress and obviously we have a couple of days’ break before we go to Middlesbrough and get ready for the Euros. But it would be an incredible moment.”
Stiff competition for starting spot
If he is to feature when the Euros start McKenna knows this week’s friendlies could be important for staking his claim.
However, the Kirriemuir-born centre-back also faces plenty of competition with Kieran Tierney, Liam Cooper, Grant Hanley and new Don Declan Gallagher also vying for places at the heart of the defence.
McKenna added: “I think everyone will be approaching these games that way. But it won’t just be in the two games, it will be every single day in training as well.
“You just need to do everything you can to try and show the manager what you’re capable of and try and get in his thoughts.
“But ultimately the two games will be how you will be judged.
“Liam Cooper and Kieran Tierney are playing at the top level in England. Grant has played at that level and has just got promoted again.
“They are top club players. It is definitely the best competition for places since I have come into the Scotland squad.
“But that’s good for everyone, it pushes everyone along. It makes the lads who haven’t played so much try and improve as well.”
McKenna on board with knockout stage target
McKenna believes that is a realistic objective and said: “We are not just here to make up the numbers.
“One win might be enough but we have to aspire to get more than that one win and make sure we get to the next stage.
“We are not here to make up the numbers, we have to try to get past that.”