Derek McInnes has dismissed suggestions that the job of Scotland manager is a poisoned chalice as he insists there is no blueprint for the right man for the role.

The Aberdeen boss chose last night not to comment on talk that he might be a candidate to replace Alex McLeish but was adamant that the national team’s chances of reaching the Euro 2020 finals should not be discounted.

And he stressed his preference that whoever takes over should be a Scot.

"I don't think there’s a set criteria,” he said. “It's about the right manager at the right time.

“Other countries have got managers in their 70s who have put so much into their club careers and who go in the traditional way of taking the job later in life.

“Closer to home you've got younger ones like Gareth Southgate, Ryan Giggs, Michael O'Neill, Chris Coleman; ones who don't have so much club experience but create a club environment within the national team.

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"I would like the national manager to be Scottish but it's just about the right man, whether that's the oldest or youngest manager operating. It doesn't matter.”

McInnes, one of the favourites with the bookies to be appointed, side-stepped the issue when questioned in the build-up to his club’s key Ladbrokes Premiership game at Kilmarnock. Both outfits are running neck and neck for a third-place finish.

"I don't really want to be commenting on it,” he said on whether he would be interested in the national job. “We've got our work to do here at Aberdeen to finish off the season.

“I don't want to court speculation on that job at the minute.

"There's a lot of jobs deemed a poisoned chalice.

“The reward for whoever takes Scotland to a major tournament is there.

“I still believe there's a squad there capable of getting the results to qualify for a tournament.

“There's a lot of talent in the squad and other countries have been able to find a way to do it. I'm sure we can as well.”

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McInnes agreed Steve Clarke, the Killie manager, would be an excellent choice as McLeish’s replacement as he praised his work in transforming the Rugby Park club.

"Steve's done a brilliant job,” he said. “It's been well-recognised.

“A lot of managers can do a good job for a few months but to sustain it is more of a challenge.

“He's raised the challenge at Kilmarnock and they're in a strong position to qualify for Europe. It's testament to the work there and it's no surprise he's linked to potential jobs in the future.

"He's done fantastic and I'm sure he'll leave Kilmarnock, whenever he does, in a better place.”

McInnes also paid tribute to McLeish, whom he described as a “true patriot” with whom he had great sympathy over the manner of his departure over a lengthy period.

“He’s been a fierce supporter of his country as player and manager,” he said.

“It’s disappointing when you see a manager not getting the chance to fulfil what he was set out to do.”