Derek McInnes tells Aberdeen to prove doubters wrong with Hampden return

Dons boss Derek McInnes at Hampden.

Boss Derek McInnes today challenged the Dons to book a Scottish Cup final slot to silence their critics.

Aberdeen face holders and recently crowned Championship winners Hibs in the semi-final at Hampden tomorrow.

It is the chance to reach a second final this season, having lost the League Cup showpiece 3-0 to Celtic in November.

A league dip followed that final loss where the Reds fell seven points behind Rangers in the race for second.

McInnes believes too many people were quick to dismiss the Dons during that slump.

Now Aberdeen are clear in second in the Premiership and 90 minutes away from a first cup final double since 2000.

McInnes reckons overcoming Hibs would further hush critics and provide redemption for the League Cup final defeat.

He said: “A lot of people were writing us off back then and criticism came our way.

“The players deserve a lot of credit because they have responded to that magnificently.

“After losing the League Cup final we talked in the dressing room about how the only way we can start to feel better about that is by revisiting another final.

“Now we are one step away from doing exactly that, and I am delighted with the players.

“It is only by revisiting finals and semi-finals that you learn to deal with them.

“Over the last three to four months they have been fantastic.

“We obviously want to win the Scottish Cup.

“If we can produce at Hampden the level of performance we have shown this season then I am confident we can get the win – we all want to reach the final.”

McInnes is set to contest his fifth semi-final tomorrow as Aberdeen boss.

He has won two semis in the League Cup, which the Dons lifted in 2014, and lost both Scottish Cup semis.

He is well aware that with the stakes so high, a result is what matters above performance.

He said: “We would sacrifice a poorer performance with the right result.

“In the league you can always make up points but in the cup you are either still in – or out.

“This is our fifth semi final and we have won two and lost two.

“The contrast to how it feels between winning and losing is so vast.

“We use all the experience we have had at this stage and hopefully take the confidence from that to try to get us into another final.

“You will also remind the players of where we are in the league and of the motivation to get to the final.”

Aberdeen face a Hibs side on a high having recently secured the Championship title.

McInnes reckons Hibs will be a top six side when they return to the Premiership next season and has left nothing to chance.

He said: “I have seen Hibs a lot since the semi-final draw.

“I have watched them four times in the flesh and seen plenty videos.

“Hibs’ priority this season was winning the league and getting back to the Premiership.

“They have done that and will be a worthy addition.

“I think they will be a top six team.

“However, now that they are in the semi-final their priority will now focus on trying to retain the Scottish Cup.

“Hibs will be tough as they are cup holders, are playing well, with a lot of confidence and have experience.

“However, we have to make sure we go out and make it tough for them.”

Winger Niall McGinn, 29, has recovered from a groin injury and will be in the squad travelling to Hampden.

Northern Ireland cap McGinn missed the 2-1 win at St Johnstone at the weekend.

McInnes said: “Niall trained yesterday and did lots of work with the physios on Tuesday and Wednesday.

“Niall will travel to Hampden.”

“Everyone is good for the semi-final.”