Aberdeen resigned to letting McGinn skip Europa League qualifiers
CRAIG BROWN has acknowledged that Northern Ireland’s gain will be Aberdeen’s loss, with Niall McGinn set to be excused from the Pittodrie club’s opening Europa League qualifier should his country make the last 16.
Brown, a non-executive director at Pittodrie, signed McGinn for the Dons following his time at Celtic and was delighted to see him score his country’s clinching goal against Ukraine on Thursday. The only problem is that prolonging his stay in France would mean the forward will be granted leave and unavailable for the club’s first European qualifying tie on June 30.
“If Northern Ireland qualify, we won’t have Niall,” said Brown. “I think Derek was aware of that. It’s a blow and it’s counter-productive to the club’s hopes of success.
“But no one at Aberdeen would begrudge him success,” he added. “Derek wouldn’t and the chairman wouldn’t, nobody would. We support success and you couldn’t find a nicer boy. He trains the way he plays and never complains.
“He is a model player and Aberdeen won’t be the only club who will suffer with players being away at the Euros. When you sign international players it’s always a risk.”
Brown, who also worked with Josh Magennis, who supplied him with the chance, has already been in contact with the striker.
“I had a text from Niall saying ‘what a feeling it was’,” said Brown. “You saw that because he normally doesn’t behave the way he did after that goal against Ukraine. McGinn is usually quite moderate in his celebration and he has scored a lot of goals for Aberdeen. I have never seen him wave his arms about like that. I was pleased for Josh Magennis as well, because we had him at Aberdeen and they are both great boys.”
Aberdeen started pre-season training this week, with new signings in the form of goalkeepers Joe Lewis and Neil Alexander, and former Dundee United centre half Callum Morris. As important as that, Brown feels, for next season is keeping hold of star performers such as McGinn, Adam Rooney, Jonny Hayes, Ryan Jack, Kenny McLean and Peter Pawlett.
“When I went, we got money for selling six players,” said Brown. “We sold Aluko because the bank was saying at that time they were morally obliged to tell them if they got an offer for a player. Next to go was Chris Maguire and Richard Foster. We lost Fraser Fyvie to Wigan, Jack Grimmer went young and the one that broke our hearts was Ryan Fraser, when we sold him to Bournemouth when we were second in the league.
“Now if he wants to keep them he keeps them,” he added. “Although Derek is first to admit that if a big offer comes in for a young player to go to a big club to improve his career, he is not going to be selfish and stand in his way. He will clearly hope he can keep the team intact, but you wouldn’t hold a guy back if, for argument’s sake, a big offer came in for [Peter] Pawlett or [Ryan] Jack. I’m glad there haven’t been more bids for players.”
GOAL HERO: Niall McGinn struck for Northern Ireland against Ukraine.