DEREK McINNES insists the recent form of the Scotland team is Gordon Strachan’s legacy and that whoever succeeds him as manager will be encouraged by the number of talented young players now available for international duty.

McInnes, adamant that his mind is focused on steering Aberdeen to domestic success – they sit alongside Celtic at the top of the Ladbrokes Premiership – is a Strachan fan and praised his efforts to qualify for next year’s World Cup finals in Russia which would have afforded him hero status.

He said: “If you look at the last six Scotland results in isolation – although you can’t just look at that – you would be really pleased not only with the performances but also the return of points. It has been more than decent and there has been plenty of encouragement.

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“When we get the last-minute winner against Slovakia you start to think this is it, we are peaking at the right time and coming into the business of the qualifying group and we are going to get the job done after it seemed a hopeless cause just a few games into the campaign.

“It is tough because Gordon is a small margin away from being a hero and really turning things around. Not many people would have given him much hope after the opening games. It is difficult but there is a lot of encouragement. There are a lot of good, young Scottish players who are getting better and they still have the best years of their careers ahead of them.

“I think there has been a lot more investment and focus at youth level over the past few years and in time that can only benefit the national manager and the national team. That might be a wee while away but for the short to medium term for the national team I still think there is a lot of encouragement there.

“We were close to qualifying and there has been a lot of doom and gloom and a lot of criticism that comes from a failed campaign and ultimately that is what it is. However, I do think the last half-a-dozen results have been far more like it and gives us a bit more optimism.”

McInnes has the difficult task of keeping Hibernian at bay at Easter Road tomorrow as the Pittodrie club aim for a ninth successive league game without defeat, though there is a recognition that Neil Lennon’s team has gathered momentum since their promotion from the Championship.

“They have attacked the SPL very confidently and very bullish-like,”

he said. “Much in the mindset of their manager really. He will be pleased with what he has given them so far and he will be expecting a lot of them this season.”