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McINNES SPELLS OUT DONS AIM

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ABERDEEN boss Derek McInnes has issued a rallying call to his players as they prepare to take on holders Celtic in the Scottish Cup semi-final at Hampden on Sunday.

The Pittodrie gaffer insisted it is the club’s aim at the start of each season to taste success in at least one piece of silverware in the campaign.

All eyes are on the national trophy where the Reds will face either Hearts or Inverness Caley Thistle in the Final on May 25 – if they overcome Neil Lennon’s Hoops side at the weekend.

McInnes, speaking to Sky Sports, said: “The intention when we enter the competition is to win it and now there are only four teams left.

“It’s always the intention at our club to try and at least win one trophy every season. We’ve hit the post a few times and we’ve put ourselves forward enough times and now we’ve got an opportunity to try and get the club into another Final.”

McInnes will lead the Dons to their eighth domestic semi-final since he took charge in 2013.

After knocking out Steven Gerrard’s Rangers team with a 2-0 victory in the quarter-final replay in Govan, the 47-year-old gaffer believes his squad can cope with the pressure.

NEAR THING…Dons keeper Joe Lewis saves from Odsonne Edouard in the 0-0 draw at Parkhead last month.

He added: “We overcame that hurdle at Ibrox and we showed we can deal with these types of games.

“I’ve put together three or four squads in my time. It’s a younger squad this season and they’ve dealt with a lot of expectation. Younger players sometimes go and play the game and not the occasion.

“I always feel in these types of games that it’s important to let the opposition know you’re in their face. An Aberdeen team should always have that confidence to go and play.

“There’s been some tough challenges to get to where we are, there’s another tough challenge ahead of us, but it’s a game that we’re certainly looking forward to.”

McInnes will also be looking to halt a run of losses against Sunday’s opponents after three consecutive defeats on silverware shoot-outs over the past three seasons.

They crashed 3-0 in the Betfred League Cup Final in November 2016 to bring Brendan Rodgers the first of his seven domestic honours during his spell at the club.

Later that term, a dramatic late goal from Tom Rogic gave the Hoops a 2-1 triumph and the Scottish Cup and last December it was the turn of Ryan Christie to claim a trophy for the Glasgow giants with the only strike of the Betfred League Cup showdown.

That Hampden loss was one of three defeats suffered by McInnes’ men against the champions this time out, but he managed to gain a goalles draw in the east end of Glasgow last month.

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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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