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Can Scott McKenna Become The Solid Centre Back Scotland Need?

Date: 12th November 2019

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For sometime now Scotland have lacked quality when it comes to our central defence area. 

Personally I think Charlie Mulgrew is now playing beyond his peak years. I think at his best he was a good left-back and a danger with his ability on set-pieces. I don’t think he’s at his best playing as a centre-back, he switches off and isn’t a natural attacker of the ball when it’s in dangerous positions. 

The thirty-three year old had to leave Blackburn Rovers for Wigan Athletic in the summer in search for more first-team football. He’s doing a job for The Latics but they’re still struggling in the English Championship. 

The fact Mulgrew seems to be Steve Clarke’s go to player for his back four, worries me. 

In the next few weeks Scotland face Kazakhstan and Cyprus as they look to gain form ahead of their crucial Nations League play-off tie for next summer’s Euros

And Mulgrew isn’t included in Clarke’s latest squad due to a hamstring injury. That gives others a chance to shine. 

Aberdeen centre-back Scott McKenna has been recalled after missing the last few games due to injury. 

The twenty-two year old could be Scotland’s best hope for the next few years in that position.

I was at Hampden as he made  his international debut against Costa Rica and he looked very decent. He was good with his ball distribution, was quick in intercepting possible attacks and he was also solid in the air too. 

His form in the last eighteen or so months with The Dons has seen McKenna linked with moves away from Pittodrie. It’s been reported that Aberdeen have rejected bids from Aston Villa, Celtic, Nottingham Forest and QPR. 

Experienced Dons shot-stopper Joe Lewis was full of praise of Scott’s defensive ability and won’t be shocked if there’s more interest in the centre-half:

“I am amazed there hasn’t been a lot more interest in Scott. For me, as a defender, he is one of the best I have played with. There is no doubt there will be loads of interest in Scott going forward. He is a great lad and a complete a professional.”

Aberdeen struggled during the early part of this season in the Scottish Premiership, that coincided with Scott being out injured after rupturing his thigh. The big centre-back returned against Hibs on the fifth of October and they’ve only lost once in those six outings, winning four of them and keeping three cleansheets. 

It would be fantastic if Scott McKenna could come back into the Scotland side and have the same positive impact. 

I know some of the Tartan Army still question McKenna’s ability. I think it takes players around twenty caps before really getting up to speed of international football and Scott only has twelve caps to his name. Plus he’s had a few dodgy partners at the back with Scotland. 

I did like the McKenna – David Bates partnership and it’s a shame that Bates is still out injured. 

Fellow Don Mikey Devlin did ok in his first few Scotland games and it could be good to see him partner Scott McKenna against Cyprus and Kazakstan as they’ve already developed a good understanding at club level.

I think these two games could be vital for Steve Clarke as he looks to build for the immediate future. We still need a strong centre-back to lead by example and shore up our backline. Scott McKenna has all the tools needed to be a formidable Scotland stalwart, let’s hope he proves that this month!

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