Dons boss McInnes out to ensure his players stick to the script – by bringing Scottish Cup back to Aberdeen

Derek McInnes.

Dons boss Derek McInnes watched St Mirren games on the flight out to Dubai to ensure nothing is left to chance in their Scottish Cup clash.

While his squad watched the in-flight movie on the eight-hour trip from Glasgow to the Middle East on Tuesday, McInnes was studying footage of the Buddies.

Having lost out in the final last season, McInnes has challenged the Reds to go one better by lifting the trophy at Hampden in May.

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He intends to use the week-long warm weather training camp in the United Arab Emirates to kick-start that silverware bid.

Every angle has been covered in preparation for the clash against the in-form Championship leaders.

As others viewed Hollywood blockbusters like Dunkirk and War for the Planet of Apes, the Reds boss was watching footage of the Buddies’ recent 1-0 defeat of Inverness.

There is little down-time for the Reds boss out here in Dubai as he will study further videos of Jack Ross’ team.

McInnes will also have a representative at St Mirren’s League clash at Dumbarton tomorrow to provide a report – before he watches that game out here as well.

McInnes said: “I watched a couple of St Mirren’s games on the way out to Dubai.

“We will treat them with respect and have also had them watched in their last five or six games.

“We will also have them watched again tomorrow and I will also have access to games.

“I feel quite well versed on them now and know their team.

“I know St Mirren’s strengths so I don’t think there will be any real surprises from them.”

St Mirren are six points clear at the top of the Championship table and are on a six-game unbeaten run.

The Scottish Cup tie is set to mark the competitive debuts of McInnes’ two January transfer window signings to date.

McInnes confirmed that he could yet add to his squad before the window closes on January 31 if the right player becomes available.

Manchester City midfielder Chidi Nwakali jetted out to the Middle East to complete a loan deal until the end of the season from the Premiership leaders.

Northern Ireland international Niall McGinn recently penned a long-term deal until 2021 to complete a return to Pittodrie.

Aberdeen will have another two days’ training in the United Arab Emirates before facing Uzbekistan side Lokomotiv Tashkent in a friendly on Sunday.

It is all part of the meticulous planning for the cup tie that started long before they got on the jet to Dubai and continued out here, 3,500 miles away.

McInnes insists he will have his squad on red alert about the potential dangers of facing a side with winning momentum – even if it is in a league below.

He said: “When you play against a team that are used to winning at the top of the league it always makes them that bit more dangerous.

“St Mirren will see this as a game where they can showcase themselves as they look like a Premiership team in waiting.”

With the Dons’ last Scottish Cup triumph back in 1990, McInnes is under no illusions about how much ending that 28-year drought means to the Red Army.

The mobilisation of Aberdeen fans for the 2-1 final loss to treble-winning Celtic at Hampden last May is testament to that.

However, he accepts the Saints, and their own fanbase, will have similar aspirations that the Reds must overcome.

He said: “St Mirren will bring a large support and will get some added confidence from that.

“I am from Paisley myself and know how important this is to the town.

“They will come with huge hope and expectation themselves.

“We will be wary of that.

“We realise we are in for a tough game.”

Following a week in the sun the Reds return for a pivotal week of action that will also take in a trip to Rangers just four days after the Scottish Cup tie.

Aberdeen lost a back-to-back double header against Rangers earlier this season as speculation linking McInnes to the then vacant Ibrox managerial position raged on.

He ultimately knocked back Rangers two days after the club made an official approach to Aberdeen to talk to the 46-year-old, which was rejected by Pittodrie chairman Stewart Milne.

Despite those two defeats Aberdeen went into this winter break holding second spot, three points ahead of Rangers.

In January last year the Reds travelled to Dubai while occupying third spot in the Premiership, three points behind the Ibrox club.

Last year the warm weather training camp provided real propulsion for the Reds who went on to win 10 of their next 12 matches.

That form elevated the Reds above Rangers and was the foundations of a third successive runners-up finish.

McInnes is hoping for a similar reaction to Dubai this time.

He said: “It is a welcome break for the players as we are training in top class facilities.

“We are also training in good weather conditions which we cannot get back home at this time of year.

“It is more conducive to coaching and getting them on the training pitch. It is to get the players re-focused and re-energised again for the second half of the campaign.

“It was a brilliant trip for us last year and hopefully we can get a similar impact from it this time.”

Aberdeen can reflect on a solid first half of the season where they entered the winter break with a club record points tally for this stage of the campaign.

However, McInnes was quick to emphasise nothing has been achieved yet.

He said: “When you get into the winter break, the league normally settles.

“There will be three or four teams at the bottom end of the table interchanging with each other at some point.

“There will be the same three or four teams in and around for the top six.

“And there will be the same four or five teams fighting for the European spots.

“We are just trying to be pleased with our work and our points tally suggests good work is being done.”

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