Derek McInnes has challenged Aberdeen’s dejected Scotland young guns to turn their under-21 disappointment into Euro 2020 joy.
The Dons trio of Ross McCrorie, Lewis Ferguson and Connor McLennan were part of Scot Gemmell’s squad who suffered the agony of missing out on a place at next year’s European Under-21 Championships after failing to pick up the win they needed from their two final qualifiers.
It means the Scottish youngsters’ 24-year wait to reach a major championship goes on but it is a different story for Steve Clarke’s senior squad, who are heading to their first tournament since 1998 at the end of the campaign.
Pittodrie defender Andy Considine is hoping to cling on to his place having finally won his first three caps aged 33 – and McInnes believes the likes of McCrorie and Ferguson should be targeting call-ups next summer too.
“It’s fantastic having Andy involved in what the national team achieved last week,” McInnes said. “What the result does now is give everybody encouragement – supporters as well as players on the outside looking in.
“We’ve got a few here that could come into consideration for that and it should give them that extra motivation to get involved next summer.
“Hopefully we can have Andy involved. I don’t think there will be too many places up for grabs but injuries can play a part and there is a long season to go.
“Let’s face it, Andy only got his opportunity because Scott McKenna and Liam Cooper got injured. Andy was ready to take it and if that opportunity comes round for one or two of my other players we’ll see if that will be the case as well.
“It was a sore one for Ross, Lewis and Connor with the 21s. There was a lot expected of them but to not get a win from their final two games has cost them.
“It will be disappointing for them but it’s important we get them back in the building and focused on Aberdeen business. Hopefully they can experience more at international level.
“I do think it’s really refreshing and helps that Steve has managed in the SPFL and has seen these guys at first hand. Boys like Stuart Findlay, Stephen O’Donnell and Greg Taylor who he’s worked at Kilmarnock with have all had a taste of international duty.
“So I think it’s great to see the SPFL hugely represented in his selection – and I do think that gives every player encouragement.
“I’m sure there are players at various clubs who will see the potential of getting to those Euros and what a carrot that is.
“It’s up to Steve to decide but I think both Lewis and Ross would deal with those games if they were called up. Both have a brilliant temperament, both are key players for us. They’ve shown enough in the under-21s and in an Aberdeen shirt that they can perform.”
As well as Considine, former Reds Scott McKenna, Ryan Jack, Kenny McLean, Ryan Christie and Lawrence Shankland have played a part in Scotland’s recent resurgence and McInnes is delighted for all of them.
“You just want players to have the best career they can,” he said. “It’s part of the their journey now and obviously a lot of the players involved have come through the doors here.
“They have been very influential in getting results and that’s just brilliant to see.
“There are still one or two who weren’t involved that could get back in like Graeme Shinnie and one or two of our boys here. Hopefully that can continue.”
But there was some bad new on the international front after Niall McGinn returned from Northern Ireland duty and will now sit out Sunday’s clash at Rangers.
McInnes said: “Niall unfortunately got injured against Slovakia and will our next three games with a calf injury. Unfortunately that is the trade-off of those extra international games.”