Former Don Darren Young says Aberdeen’s squad should be confident as they look to reach the Scottish Cup final.
The Reds face Celtic at Hampden on Sunday bidding to set up a final with Hearts or Hibs as Derek McInnes’ men look to end the 30-year wait for Scottish Cup glory.
Having lost just three times in 14 outings in all competitions this season and drawing 3-3 with the Hoops on Sunday in the Premiership, Young reckons there will be plenty of belief in the Pittodrie ranks.
The midfielder, who played for the Dons from 1996-2003, said: “I think Aberdeen should have confidence, even when you look at the Dundee United game they drew they should have won it but didn’t take their chances.
“They’ve been looking very good and I know there were a few concerns at the start of the season with various things.
“But they’ve done very well and since then and they’ve showed their quality.
“So they can go into the game with a bit of confidence and Celtic are maybe not as confident as they were earlier in the season after a couple of defeats and things.
“It’s a chance to get to a final and it would be brilliant if Aberdeen could do that in.”
East Fife boss Young believes the current squad is perhaps the strongest McInnes has assembled during his seven-and-a-half-year reign in charge of Aberdeen.
Sam Cosgrove’s return from a knee injury last weekend only increases the options available ahead of this crunch fixture.
Other young players like Lewis Ferguson, Ross McCrorie, Scott Wright and Connor McLennan have also caught Young’s eye.
The 42-year-old added: “It’s possibly one of the strongest squads Aberdeen have had recently.
“Every year it seems like they are losing somebody, I know Scott McKenna left this summer.
“But they have plenty of guys there who are well fitted-in and have been there for a while.
“So they are looking strong on paper and having Cosgrove back is a real boost for them as well.
“But if they can have a bit of luck with injuries, they’ve certainly got a good squad to pick from.
“They’ve got good young players who have also gained a lot of experience.
“You hope if Aberdeen can keep these guys together and keep developing them they’ll form a really good team.
“They’ve gelled and bonded well by the looks of things and they’re young and up and coming Scottish players who I’m sure will have aspirations to go to the highest level.”
During his playing days, Young was part of an impressive pool of young players that established themselves under manager Ebbe Skovdahl.
As well as Young and his brother Derek Russell Anderson, Darren Mackie, Kevin McNaughton, Michael Hart, Chris Clark and Ryan Esson all broke through.
They helped the Dons to their highest league finish under Skovdahl – fourth in season 2001-02 – a campaign in which they equalled the club record for nine straight home league victories, a run which included the last Pittodrie clean sheet against Celtic.
After the Reds reached two cups finals in the Skovdahl’s first term (1999-2000), it’s a disappointment to Young that they didn’t return to Hampden during the Dane’s time in charge.
He said: “When I was at Aberdeen I missed the two cup finals against Rangers and Celtic because I had a knee injury.
“It was disappointing and in the seasons after that we possibly should have done better in the cups.
“The other teams at the time were strong as well, besides Celtic and Rangers Hearts, Hibs and Dundee United all had good teams and were challenging.
“So when you look back it is disappointing, but it’s one of those things.
“We also had a good crop of young players coming through, so it would have been good to have done better, but it’s just one of those things.
“Myself, Derek, Darren Mackie, Michael Hart, Chris Clark, Russell Anderson, Kevin McNaughton, Ryan Esson, we were all coming through at a similar time and Ebbe gave us all chances and it was great to be part of that.”
Skovdahl died last week aged 75 and Young said: “It was sad to hear he had passed away because he was a character who was well liked by everyone, he was a great guy.
“I’ve got a lot of fond memories from that time under Ebbe.
“Some of his wee quips were brilliant, we had a table in the dressing room that we used to write down all his wee quotes.
“He was a nice guy who would always try to help you and he made me vice-captain as well, so I was really appreciative of that and her certainly left his mark at Aberdeen.”