Aberdeen V Celtic at Pittodrie Stadium : Match Preview

11 May 2017

Boss McInnes wants Aberdeen to lay down marker ahead of cup final

Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes believes producing a good performance against Celtic on Friday is an important factor in their William Hill Scottish Cup final preparations.

The Dons all but sealed second spot in the Ladbrokes Premiership last weekend after restoring their nine-point lead over Rangers and 23-goal advantage with three games left.

But McInnes admits showing they can compete with the unbeaten champions can give them a pre-Hampden boost.

"I think it will be more the performance rather than the result," he said. "We will go into the cup final feeling we can win that regardless of what happens on Friday night.

"The performance from the team and the players is important. We have got to let Celtic know we are there, and will be there again in a fortnight's time at Hampden.

"It will two separate games played on two different pitches, different competition, but bringing a level of performance against Celtic is important."

McInnes will be without Ryan Jack (groin) and Peter Pawlett (Achilles) along with the ineligible Ryan Christie, and he admits the injured pair are both at risk of joining the Celtic loan player on the sidelines at Hampden.

So McInnes will not have the luxury of resting players ahead of the May 27 showpiece.

"The reality is we don't have too many options," he said. "We have three players out. We have 16-year-old Dean Campbell and 17-year-old Seb Ross in the squad alongside young Frank Ross and Scott Wright.

"We've got tight numbers. We have three unavailable on Friday night and we will have three unavailable for Ibrox during the week because Jonny Hayes is suspended.

"So we don't have too many options to be resting players even if we wanted to, and I think it's dangerous to be doing that.

"To keep all my options open for the cup final, I need to make sure players are getting minutes.

"We have to make sure I give myself enough options for that game and also try to win games in between time."

Celtic midfielder Tom Rogic has praised the impact of manager Brendan Rodgers, with the former Liverpool manager on the verge of leading his club to a domestic treble.

Celtic have gone 43 games unbeaten against Scottish opposition since the start of the season, and Rogic believes the spirit instilled at Parkhead has underpinned this season's success.

The 24-year-old Australia international said: "The manager has changed the way the club is as a whole.

"A lot of players working hard, together, for the one cause. It is not about individuals and I think that is a big reason why we have been so successful.

"If you look at the way we are playing this season, players who aren't playing are working hard and come into the team when maybe they haven't been playing so much, and it has been an easy transition.

"Players like Dedryck Boyata, who wasn't involved so much in one part of the season, can still come in and play a massive part and contribute to the club's success.

"We have a real belief among the squad. It is not about the individual it is about the group and how successful we can be together as one."

Source: PAR