At the age of just 20, there are few players out there who can say they’ve made 73 appearances at senior level, but Aberdeen midfielder Lewis Ferguson is one who can.
A regular starter for Scotland’s U21s side and an ever-present member of Derek McInnes’ Dons team, the battler is already making big strides in the senior game despite his young age.
By the end of the 2021 Euro Championship process, Ferguson will be moving on from the Scotland youth setup. The U21s are an experienced bunch, with the likes of SPFL regulars Allan Campbell, Ryan Porteous, Kyle Magennis and Ross Doohan just some of the names involved.
Following the 0-0 draw with Lithuania, Ferguson says the balance within the squad is helping them and that this group of young stars are capable of stepping up to the first-team.
He said: “Everybody’s playing at a top level. It’s a good group of lads, a close knit group, everybody gets on great.
“Maybe I’m one of the more experienced ones there in terms of first-team games, but we’ve got the likes of Allan Campbell in there, who’s played god knows how many Premiership games.
“There’s a lot of boys that are experienced, there’s a good balance in the team. They’ve all played, none of them are new to it.
“It’s a good mix with the experienced boys and those who haven’t played as much.
“The next level is obviously the first-team so every boy in that changing room, they know what’s next. They’ve seen the likes of Scott McKenna and Oliver McBurnie, boys that have been in the U21s before, and all they boys that have moved up. That’s the level you want to be at.
“Everybody in that changing room is more than capable if they do their best and work hard. I’m pretty sure a few boys from this campaign will make the cut.”
Injury problems at Pittodrie
Ferguson’s domestic side Aberdeen are currently fourth in the Scottish Premiership and they haven’t been helped by injuries at the start of this campaign.
Ferguson has been a consistent presence, but he is one of the lucky ones. Many of his North-East peers have been struck down with injury at some stage this term.
Scott McKenna, Craig Bryson, Funso Ojo, Scott Wright, Ash Taylor and Stephen Gleeson have all been long-term absentees this season, with many of them still out.
Ferguson says it has been a challenging time, but one the entire camp has tackled together: “It’s a good dressing room.
“Everybody sticks together at times like this because it is hard when there’s boys out and your lacking numbers.
“Every season your going to have injuries here and there, but this season, we’ve been done by a couple in the same area. It is tough at the minute but you need to stick together as a team and when they do come back it’ll be a boost.”
Aberdeen learning curves
As a young player, Ferguson is still learning the ropes in this game. Yes, he could hit 100 senior games this term, but he is still growing and developing.
Another learning curve for him was his red card against Hibs. A late challenge as the game faded out sent the 20-year-old down the tunnel.
Ferguson has reflected on this incident and the importance of bouncing back from adversity.
He said: “It was disappointing. It was a bit rash, but I thought I had a good game. I was happy with my performance, it was just that last minute I dived in a bit rash.
“I completely mistimed it. It’s not like I went in there to hurt the boy, it was just a mistimed tackle. These things happen.
“I don’t think you can ever get too high, sometimes you can bring yourself too low, but I don’t generally do that. Everybody’s going to suffer setbacks in their life no matter what they do, but it’s how you come back that’s important.”