‘It’s great to have Scott back for semi’

Evening Express (City Final) - - Front Page - BY CAL­LUM LAW

DONS boss Derek Mcinnes has hailed the re­turn of Scott Mckenna for Sun­day’s League Cup semi-fi­nal. The cen­tre-back has missed Aberdeen’s last two matches through sus­pen­sion but is avail­able for Sun­day’s last-four clash with Rangers. Mckenna had to sit out the 4-1 win over St Mir­ren and the 2-1 loss to Hearts af­ter be­ing hit with a ret­ro­spec­tive SFA ban for a chal­lenge on Od­sonne Edouard dur­ing the 1-0 de­feat to Celtic on Septem­ber 29. Mcinnes is de­lighted to have the Scot­land in­ter­na­tional back for this week­end. The Pit­to­drie gaffer is also con­fi­dent Mckenna will be up to speed be­cause dur­ing his ban he played for Scot­land in the de­feat to Is­rael in the UEFA Na­tions League on Oc­to­ber 11 and in the friendly against Por­tu­gal three days later. Mcinnes said: “It’s huge that Scott is back. We feel as though we have been with­out him for the ma­jor­ity of the sea­son through in­jury and then

through sus­pen­sion. He’s now free from sus­pen­sion and, thank­fully, he had a cou­ple of in­volve­ments in the games with Scot­land to keep his eye in and keep his match sharp­ness. “Like any team, you want your key play­ers to be fit and avail­able and, thank­fully, we’ve got him now.” Af­ter break­ing into the Aberdeen team in Septem­ber last year, Mckenna has be­come a main­stay not only for the Dons but also Scot­land. Mcinnes be­lieves it shows his abil­ity that he has been able to main­tain the high stan­dards he set af­ter first fea­tur­ing for the Reds. He added: “He’s im­por­tant to Scot­land and he’s im­por­tant to us. “That is tes­ta­ment to his con­sis­tency re­ally, a lot of young play­ers can be very good. “But to sus­tain that can be dif­fi­cult and he’s man­aged to do ex­actly that which is good.” Two play­ers Mckenna won’t have to worry about mark­ing on Sun­day are Gers strik­ers Al­fredo More­los and Kyle Laf­ferty. The Colom­bian is sus­pened while the North­ern Ir­ish­man is cup-tied. How­ever, Mcinnes be­lieves that the Go­van team will find a way to cope with­out the pair – which means the Dons will have to de­fend well. Mcinnes said: “With the squad they’ve got there, I’m sure they’ll find a way to cope with it. “More­los in par­tic­u­lar is hav­ing a fan­tas­tic sea­son, the as­sists and goals he’s had al­ready would in­di­cate that. “Teams need to find a way to deal with that and teams with big­ger squads nor­mally do.” Sun­day’s fix­ture will be Steven Ger­rard’s first semi-fi­nal as Rangers man­ager. Mcinnes re­spects the job the for­mer Liver­pool and Eng­land cap­tain has done at Ibrox, but is hop­ing to stop him reach­ing his first cup fi­nal in Scot­land. Mcinnes said: “It’s clear that he has done a very good job and he has as­sem­bled a very strong squad. “Rangers have al­ways had big squads in re­cent years, but the qual­ity of their squad has been far bet­ter. “Ob­vi­ously, they have the ben­e­fit of some mo­men­tum with how well they have done in Europe. “The sup­port­ers are en­joy­ing what they are see­ing, it’s some­thing for them to be­lieve in. “In a short pe­riod of time, he has man­aged to get ev­ery­body feel­ing more pos­i­tive. “They de­serve credit for that – but as strong as the squad is he can only play 11. “Hope­fully, my 11 will be bet­ter than his on Sun­day.”

Kyle Laf­ferty will be miss­ing for Rangers on Sun­day

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