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Defender Jack MacKenzie will finally play for new Aberdeen boss Stephen Glass 14 months after a loan to Atlanta United 2 was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic – Evening Express

More than a year after a loan deal to Atlanta United 2 was derailed by the coronavirus pandemic Aberdeen defender Jack MacKenzie is excited to finally begin working under Stephen Glass.

Former Atlanta United 2 boss Glass will formally take charge of the Dons today and will meet the squad face to face for the first time at the club’s Cormack Park training facility.

Although in Scotland for more than a week the 44-year-old missed the back-to-back victories over St Johnstone and Dumbarton.

His absence from the dugout was due to a 10 day  quarantine period enforced under Covid-19 overseas travel regulations having flown in from the United States.

Left-back MacKenzie, who has broken into the starting XI under interim boss Paul Sheerin, is relishing playing for Glass  – 14 months later than initially planned.

MacKenzie, 21, said: “I was meant to go out to his team, Atlanta United 2, last year but Covid put an end to that.

“I was a bit gutted about that but I am really excited that I am getting to work with him now.

“I was meant to go out (to Atlanta United 2 ) last March and that was initially until July and then it was to be extended for the season.

“My loan was delayed because I was needed for first-team cover and then it was cancelled because of Covid.

“I heard good things when I was meant to go over and I am hearing even better things now.”

© SNS Group
Aberdeen’s Jack MacKenzie (R) is tackled by Glenn Middleton in the 1-0 defeat of St Johnstone in Perth.

Whilst the new regime under Glass and assistant Allan Russell will begin today the new manager has already been in contact with the players during his quarantine spell.

MacKenzie said: “I have spoken to him.

“He was really positive and it is exciting to get started.

“The club wants to play young players but that is up to us to do well and take our opportunities when they come along.”

Glass and Russell, the England squad striker coach, will be in the dugout for the first time when Aberdeen host Livingston in the Scottish Cup fourth round on Saturday (5.30pm).

I am an Aberdeen fan.

“It has been a dream for me to play for the team.

“I have been here for 11 years and to get the opportunity to play now is massive and makes me feel very proud.”

Jack MacKenzie

However MacKenzie will have to sit out that historic first match under the new managerial regime as he is cup tied having played in the tournament in January whilst on loan at Forfar Athletic.

That tie against East of Scotland League outfit Linlithgow Rose was the defender’s last match for Forfar before he was recalled by the Dons from his loan deal.

He said: “I only played the one game for Forfar in the cup.

“It was a 4-1 win over Linlithgow Rose after extra-time.

“We didn’t know the season was to be cut short because I would still be out there now if that hadn’t been the case.

“It has turned out to be a blessing in disguise now that I am in the Aberdeen team.”

It has been a memorable few weeks for MacKenzie who was handed a debut by Sheerin when starting in the 1-0 New Firm derby loss to Dundee United.

Just days after that first team debut the defender signed a two year contract extension tying him to Pittodrie until summer 2023.

Although cup tied for the 1-0 Scottish Cup third round win at Dumbarton the full-back was straight back into the starting line-up for the 1-0 win at St Johnstone at the weekend.

MacKenzie is determined to maintain that momentum under new manager Glass.

He said: “It has been a great few weeks for me.

“I made my debut and got a new contract.

“It has been really good and positive and I am delighted to be playing football for Aberdeen.

“I just hope it will continue.

“With a new manager coming in I want to make sure I can impress him and keep myself in the team with positive performances and hopefully positive results for the team, that is the most important.”

© SNS Group
Rising Aberdeen star Jack MacKenzie in action for Aberdeen against St Johnstone.

A life-long Aberdeen fan MacKenzie, who has been with the club since the age of nine, admits it is a ‘dream’ to play for the club he supports.

A product of the Aberdeen FC Youth Academy and the Scottish Football Association Performance School at Hazlehead the stopper has previously captained the Dons’ development side.

He said:  “I am an Aberdeen fan.

“It has been a dream for me to play for the team.

“I have been here for 11 years and to get the opportunity to play now is massive and makes me feel very proud.”

Interim boss Sheerin handed MacKenzie his opportunity to shine the 21-year-old grabbed it with incoming boss Glass monitoring the matches remotely.

He thanked development squad manager  Sheerin not only for ‘taking a chance on him’ by pitching him into the first team but for his help over the years.

He said: “Paul Sheerin  took a chance on me and I really appreciate it.

“He has been great for me, along with Barry (Robson) since they took over.

“I appreciate them having the faith in me because I have worked with them for quite a few years with the development squad.”

© SNS Group
Interim managers Paul Sheerin (L) and Barry Robson lead an Aberdeen training session at Cormack Park.

MacKenzie made 14 appearances for League One Forfar Athletic on loan this season with his debut coming in a narrow 1-0 League Cup group loss to Premiership Hibs.

All 14 of those appearances were starts under Forfar boss Stuart Malcolm who resigned from his post Station Park last week following a 3-0 loss to Clyde that left them adrift at the bottom of League One.

The rising Reds star believes he wasn’t quite ready to play for the Aberdeen first team prior to going out on loan.

However, after a successful spell in the  third tier the full-back returned more than ready to star for the Reds.

© SNS Group
On his Aberdeen debut Jack MacKenzie tussles with Dundee United’s Marc McNulty in a 1-0 loss.

He said: “I was always on the cusp (of a Dons debut) and my loan spell at Forfar was needed because I wasn’t quite at the level to play for the first-team.

“I only played 14 games for Forfar but it was great for me.

“The Forfar manager was Stuart Malcolm and he was great with me, along with the senior lads.

“It was massive, playing senior football where you have to win.

“You are fighting against relegation and it was good for my development.

“Playing in that environment has stood me in good stead.”

© Chris Sumner/Aberdeen Journals
Jack MacKenzie in action whilst on loan at Forfar battles with Leighton McIntosh of Cove Rangers.

 

 



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