Scout Report: Scott McKenna – 21-year-old Aberdeen defender set to become Scotland’s new defensive guard


Scout Report: Scott McKenna – 21-year-old Aberdeen defender set to become Scotland’s new defensive guard

Scotland has suffered from a lack of options in many positions recently, but none more so than central defence. Either the players chosen were ageing, like Gary Caldwell and Russell Martin, or limited, like Christophe Berra and Grant Hanley. In such a key area of the pitch, the dearth of true talent was troublesome.

In the last season, however, a few young contenders have, luckily, emerged: John Souttar looks like a good prospect if he can work on his consistency; Liam Lindsay has thrived after moving to the English Championship with Barnsley from Patrick Thistle last summer. Even Kieran Tierney has performed admirably when filling in at centre back for his club Celtic.

However, Aberdeen has offered an option in the form of Scott McKenna, who has burst onto the scene this season. New national team coach Alex McLeish – a former battling Dons defender himself – gave him his first full call-up for the upcoming friendlies and if he continues on his current trajectory it should be the first of many. In fact, as per a report from BBC, his club manager Derek McInnes called him the best centre-back in Scotland and there would be few who would argue against this statement.

This might have seemed unlikely at one point as McKenna suffered relegation during a loan spell with Ayr United last season. Despite several previous unsuccessful loan moves elsewhere, McKenna surprisingly cemented his first-team position back in Aberdeen from the start of this campaign: he has 26 appearances so far in all competitions and has been one of his team’s most consistent performers throughout.


McKenna is a physical powerhouse, his bulk gained when using gym work to ease his frustrations at not getting a game during his time at Ayr United, and he’s rarely bested in a one-on-one tussle as a result; at 6ft 2in he dominates in aerial battles as well.

McKenna’s positional sense is strong, boding well for the international stage, where tougher attacking opponents usually await. He appears a natural leader too, an effective communicator, and often he has been seen in key matches taking control of the Aberdeen backline and leading by example, especially in tense situations.

McKenna also possesses ample technical ability, which was on show when he scored that unbelievable goal against Kilmarnock. Picking up the ball in plenty of space just over the halfway point, McKenna unleashed a simply unstoppable swerving shot with his powerful left foot that left goalkeeper Jamie MacDonald in awe.

The smile on the youngster’s face afterwards showed a player full of confidence and enjoying his football. While he’s comfortable with the ball at his feet, his distribution does need some work as he can be guilty of needless errors in possession during a game.

English clubs have naturally already been looking at signing the defender but the Scotsman would do well to stay at Aberdeen for at least another year.

At only 21, he still has plenty of time to develop at a club he’s comfortable at, thus avoiding the trap of succumbing to the bench at an English Championship club too soon. If he can improve his technical skills and add these to his dominant athleticism, McKenna could be a key player for club and country for years to come.