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LEWIS CALLS FOR TEAM OF LEADERS

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ABERDEEN keeper Joe Lewis is adamant a team of leaders can overcome Celtic in the Scottish Cup semi-final at Hampden tomorrow afternoon.

The Dons go into the intriguing last-four confrontation without the inspirational qualities of Graeme Shinnie, as Scotzine reported yesterday.

The Pittodrie skipper was booked in both quarter-final clashes against Rangers and will be forced to sit in the stand while his team-mates take on a Hoops outfit who have their eyes on the prize and an unprecedented treble treble.

Shinnie, who held talks with Championship side Derby County during the week, will be a big miss, but Lewis insists his colleagues will rise to the challenge without his tenacious midfield talents.

CRASH…Joe Lewis is stranded as James Forrest scores the second goal in Celtic’s 3-0 League Cup win.

The English shotstopper, speaking to the Evening Times, said: “With Shinnie being out, everyone is going to need to step up to that plate.

“It’s a great opportunity for others to step up and show the manager they can deal with this type of occasion.

“It’s important for everyone and senior members, especially. I try to take on that role of making sure the lads are right, but we have a very professional bunch.

“No-one is too wild or doesn’t know what they are doing, so we will use that mix of experience we have with the young lads.”

BANG…Tom Rogic turns away after scoring the Scottish Cup winner in 2017.

Lewis, who shut out Neil Lennon’s team when the Dons got a point in a goalless draw at Parkhead last month, added: “It’s hard to predict how the game will go, but we need to make sure we are organised and keep things tight.

“I don’t think we’ll be going gung-ho, but then that’s the plan against Celtic for most teams and was probably our plan when we lost 4-3 at home!

“So, you can’t predict how it might go, but we do think it will be tight and it will be difficult.

“We need to take opportunities and chances when they come along because you don’t get many in games against good teams. We need to take any and make sure we have a ruthless streak in front of goal and be clinical in our defensive work, too.

“I’ve played quite a lot of games at Hampden and I always enjoy them. I don’t enjoy losing any, but I enjoy the occasion, the pitch and the atmosphere.

“I am looking forward to it and, hopefully, I can be on the winning side.”

WALLOP…Ryan Christie claims the League Cup clincher this season.

Lewis has been a loser on three occasions in three seasons against Celtic. He was in the Pittodrie line-up that crashed 3-0 in the League Cup Final in Brendan Rodgers’ debut campaign at Parkhead in 2016/17.

Later in that term, Tom Rogic slotted in a dramatic late winner to claim the Scottish Cup for the Glasgow giants and this time around it was former Dons loanee Ryan Christie who rifled in the only goal of the League Cup Final at the start of December.

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Acclaimed author Alex Gordon wrote the biography of Scotland international legend Denis Law, entitled 'King and Country'. He is a former columnist with World Soccer magazine and Scottish correspondent of respected European journal L'Equipe.

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