Captain Shinnie can shine for us in Killie cup game, says Dons boss McInnes

Returning skipper Graeme Shinnie netted the opening goal for Aberdeen in the Scottish Cup quarter-final.

Boss Derek McInnes today insisted the return of Graeme Shinnie is a major boost to the Dons’ Scottish Cup glory bid.

Following a two-game suspension, skipper Shinnie could return to action in tomorrow’s quarter-final clash with Kilmarnock at Pittodrie.

It remained in the balance whether the game will be played in light of heavy snow this week, with the Reds releasing a statement saying the situation was being “continuously monitored”.

Aberdeen lost both games Shinnie missed, to league leaders Celtic and Hibs.

Shinnie was set to make his comeback against Motherwell in the Premiership on Wednesday but that game was postponed due to the bad weather.

The midfielder is the most booked player in the Scottish Premiership – having racked up 13 yellow cards this season.

McInnes said: “There is no doubt having Shinnie is important to us.

“He brings tackles, energy, impetus, desire, that real tenacity.

“Wherever he plays he brings that real competitive edge to it.

“He is our captain and the players take the lead off him.

“We have some very good players and had some very good performances on Sunday against Celtic.

“Kenny McLean and Scott McKenna were outstanding in that game – but Shinnie and Ryan Christie are so important for us.”

On-loan Celtic attacker Christie also missed the 2-0 loss on Sunday as he is ineligible to face his parent club due to the terms of his loan agreement.

Christie will return should the last-eight cup clash go ahead as the Reds bid to take a step closer to lifting the trophy for the first time since 1990.

On-loan Birmingham City attacker Greg Stewart is also set to return after missing the Hoops defeat having picked up a knock in training.

January signing Sam Cosgrove is eligible to face Kilmarnock tomorrow despite being sent off against Celtic.

The 21-year-old former Carlisle United striker received a straight red just eight minutes into his Dons debut for a challenge on Celtic skipper Scott Brown.

That dismissal secured an automatic two-game ban but it is restricted to Premiership games.

Cosgrove will be ruled out for the league games against Partick Thistle (a) and Dundee (h).

Aberdeen had hoped for the opportunity to immediately bounce back from the Celtic defeat by facing the Steelmen at Fir Park.

It was their 10th straight defeat to the defending champions in all competitions.

McInnes reckons reaching the Scottish Cup semi-final is the only way to silence criticism directed toward the Reds as their defeats to Celtic hit double digits.

He said: “We are being criticised for not beating Celtic which has been the case over the past couple of seasons.

“So be it. We don’t really have a lot to defend ourselves with because of the results.

“Until we win a game it will be difficult to argue against that.

“I thought the team performed very well against Celtic and put everything into it.

“We never quite got the result and the criticism has come.

“We are a very tight-knit group and we all know our own jobs.

“But we are well aware with 10 games to go in the league we still have a lot to play for and a quarter-final of the Scottish Cup to address tomorrow as well.

“Hopefully, we can get back to winning ways, and after the visit of Kilmarnock for the Scottish Cup quarter-final, we might be in the semi-final of the cup and it will be somebody else’s turn (to take criticism).”