Sone Aluko returned to Aberdeen to prove his fitness and has been cleared to to play for Nigeria in the Under-20 World Cup after going AWOL. The Dons winger flew to the Nigerians' training camp in Spain this week without his club's permission. Manager mark McGhee ordered him to come back in order to prove his fitness before he would be allowed to feature in the tournament which takes place in Egypt starting on Thursday. Aluko headed back to Scotland on Friday, was declared fit, and will now be in the squad for today's league game against St Mirren. The former England Under-19 international, who made his full Nigeria debut in May after switching allegiance, will then fly out to join his Nigeria team-mates on Sunday.
"We're all happy with that situation and ultimately it's come out well"
McGhee said: "It's the outcome I always anticipated. The important thing was that Sone came back and we got the opportunity to sit down and both of us explain ourselves, our positions, our understanding of events. Once that was done, I had a clear picture that nothing Sone did was done in anything less than good faith. Really, it was the result of a misunderstanding. I'm totally content with that. We're all happy with that situation and ultimately it's come out well."
Aberdeen were struggling earlier on Friday to persuade the Nigeria Football Federation to allow Aluko to return . McGhee had been anger when the player picked up a knock while training with Nigeria last week, blaming the use of an artificial pitch. McGhee insisted he never had any intention of stopping Aluko playing for his country, even though release of players for FIFA under-20 tournaments is not compulsory. McGhee said: "How can we possibly stand in the way of any boy having that sort of experience? What I anticipate is that sort of experience is going to be so good for Sone; it's going to give him such confidence, that he's going to come back here a better player." The saga over Aluko's release could have caused a rift between player and manager but McGhee did not even consider that to ever have been a possibility. He said: "I never, ever for a minute imagined or even feared that would be the case because I think he's a really, really good lad. " sensed and suspected that everything that had happened was the result of a little bit of a misunderstanding and a little bit of breakdown of communication and therefore I had no fears that it was going to do any damage to any relationship between myself and Sone, between Sone and the supporters, between Sone and the Nigerian camp, between Sone and the Nigerian supporters."
Aberdeen will now be able to call on Aluko's creativity against Saints, which will be much needed on the back of successive goalless draws. Captain Mark Kerr believes a positive start is needed. He said: "Hopefully we get a better start than we did against Falkirk. We didn't put our stamp on the game early doors so hopefully we can do that on Saturday and go on from there. I think we can all improve, it's good having the clean sheets to build on. Personally, I have got to do better and everybody has to keep asking questions of themselves."
Ger Harley (ger@scottishfitba net)
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