Scotland U21 preview with Ryan Jack
It is another International week and there are a number of Dons players heading to all parts of the world. Mo Chalali, Kari Arnason and Jason Brown are playing for their respective countries while closer to home, Cammy Smith is away with the Scotland U17s and Ryan Jack and Peter Palwett are teaming up with the Scotland U21s for their match against Holland on Wednesday night.
Scotland U21s shocked the Dutch with a 2-1 win in Holland in November, one of the finest results produced by a Scottish team for many years. Jordan Rhodes and David Wotherspoon scored the goals with Ryan Jack setting up the winner. Ryan spoke to RedWeb before heading off down the road to meet up with Billy Stark's squad.
"I am looking forward to the game. It is another chance for me to go away and play for my country which is something I really enjoy doing.
"It is a massive game in terms of qualification, so it should be very exciting. We're only one point behind the Dutch after four games, so if we win we go two points ahead. If we lose, there'll be a four point gap, so the stakes could not be higher.
"To beat them twice would be a great achievement. I doubt Scotland U21s have ever done that before, or even beat any of the top European nations twice.
"You can't think about that though. We are just going into it as another match. We need to make sure we are 100% ready for them.
"Maybe they underestimated us last time but we showed on the night there are a lot of quality young Scottish players at the moment.
"We will look to do what we did over there and play our own game. They will be coming here wary after we beat them but I am also sure they will be determined to get a result after what happened last time. They will also know a bit more about us, but we know more about them. We do quite a bit of video analysis, like we do at Pittodrie. It gives you an idea of what you are up against and who you are up against. It is all inside information, if you like, that can help you with your performance.
"It's a great squad. We all know each other now as we have been together for quite a few matches now. Everyone is pretty much good mates, we all get on well and the spirit amongst the boys is very good. That helps to make it more comfortable when you are away, though I always feel at home as there is quite a large Aberdeen contingent in the squad! As well as Pete (Peter Pawlett), David Wylie, Jim Leighton and Jim Warrender form part of the coaching staff and backroom team".
Ryan was in action on Saturday against St Mirren and was unlucky to see his effort just before half-time ruled out by a linesman's flag. The same linesman decided not to raise his flag when St Mirren took the lead and although Scott Vernon equalised shortly afterwards, it was another two points dropped by the Dons. Despite the result, Ryan still believes a top six position is within their sights.
"Things can change very quickly. A couple of wins and you are back in the top six. We have dropped out of it at the moment but we will all be working as hard as we can, starting on Saturday, to try and get as many three points in the remaining five games. We just have to take one game at a time though, starting with Celtic on Saturday.
"Things are still quite tight between all the sides, all the way from St Johnstone in fourth down to St Mirren in ninth.
"Defensively we have been strong in recent matches but we have to try and create more chances and score more goals if we are to get those wins. We are working hard in training to do that. Hopefully we will start to get a few of the injured players back as we go into the final hurdle.
"Having a few more experienced players around the dressing room has certainly helped. Stephen Hughes, Mark Reynolds and Gavin Rae have all done really well since coming in the side and when you play alongside them, you can feed of their experience. They are all really good with the young boys. They always speak to you in training to try and make you a better player and talk you through the games. Having players like that at Aberdeen can only be a good thing".
Ryan was dropped for the recent match against Queen of the South but like Craig Brown was keen to point out that the matter is now closed.
"It has been dealt with and is finished with now, and it's certainly something I have learned from."
Admission prices for the match are £6 for adults and £2 for kids if tickets are bought before 5pm on Tuesday, February 28. There will also be a cash turnstile in operation on the night and admission will be £8 for adults and £2 for kids. Alternatively supporters can get tickets by contacting www.smfctickets.co.uk or via the Scottish FA website on www.scottishfa.co.uk
Kick-off is set for 5.30pm.
Good luck to Ryan, Peter and the young Scots.