Former Aberdeen captain Russell Anderson insists Scott McKenna won’t be affected by the hype surrounding him.
Dons centre-back McKenna will bring the curtain down on his remarkable season as part of Alex McLeish’s Scotland squad for friendlies against Peru on May 29 and Mexico on June 3.
The 21-year-old has been hugely impressive in his breakthrough season.
In the first two games of McLeish’s second spell in charge of the national team McKenna will be hoping to add to the two Scotland caps he already earned against Costa Rica and Hungary in March.
It has been an incredible rise for McKenna who, at the beginning of the season, wasn’t in Derek McInnes’ Aberdeen team.
But one game changed that. Following the Dons’ 3-0 League Cup quarter-final defeat to Motherwell at Fir Park on September 21 the youngster was drafted in three days later for a return trip to Lanarkshire in the Premiership.
After a fine showing in that 1-0 win McKenna has established himself in the Reds’ back four and has made 36 appearances.
He has also signed contract extensions to keep him at Pittodrie until 2023 in addition to his international bow.
English Championship side Hull City failed with several bids to buy McKenna during the January transfer window, assessing his worth as in excess of £1 million with their last bid.
It would be easy for someone so young to get carried away with what they have achieved.
But Anderson, another Aberdeen youth graduate, doesn’t think McKenna will be affected by the hype that now surrounds him.
He said: “A lot has obviously been made of the impact Scott has made since he broke into the first team.
“He’s only really had half a season, but his performances have been at a level where he is rightly rewarded for being involved (with Scotland).
“I don’t think anyone is surprised to see him keep his place in the squad because he did well in the last two internationals.
“He hasn’t really looked back since his first start.
“I think it goes to show how football can be all about timing and taking your opportunity.
“He had been in and around the squad, but hadn’t really been used prior to that.
“As much as that game (3-0 League Cup loss to Motherwell) was a pretty sobering experience for the team itself, it obviously gave Scott his opportunity following that and he’s taken full advantage of it.
“It’s nice to see because, as everyone has said, he’s a very likeable guy.
“He works hard at his game and if he keeps his feet on the ground – which he will do because he’s that kind of person and is surrounded by a good family – I’m sure that he’ll go on to have a good career.
“Everyone just has to be mindful that he is still young.
“It always happens and people can get carried away with what he could achieve – he’s only played six months of first-team football.
“But I don’t think that will affect Scott because he is very down to earth.”
Having already collected two Scotland caps many in the game have been quick to tout McKenna as someone who can become a mainstay of the national team’s defence for years to come.
Anderson, who won 11 international caps between 2002 and 2008, is in no doubt about McKenna’s talent.
But he believes it is unhelpful to already suggest he could be an international regular.
He added: “It’s very easy for people to say when he’s had two caps that he’ll be a Scotland mainstay.
“I don’t think that does anybody any good, it won’t do Scott any good.
“So I’m going to refrain from saying that.
“All he can do is keep doing what he’s doing and if he gets any game time during this trip hopefully he can continue to prove himself.”
Anderson, who is now assistant manager at Highland League side Formartine United, believes the clashes with Peru and Mexico will be good for McKenna.
The former Sunderland, Plymouth Argyle and Derby County player believes this trip will give McKenna vital experience for the years ahead.
He said: “I was 24 when I made my Scotland debut and Scott is young to have made his debut compared to an awful lot of other people that have eventually had a taste of international football.
“But I think the last two games he was involved in have proved that he’s capable of playing at that level.
“I would imagine these will be a more challenging couple of games away from home.
“I’m not really too sure about the opposition, but it’s all good for experience and I’m sure he’ll enjoy it.”