THERE were so many reasons Hearts striker Callum Paterson rued the foot injury which ruled him out of the second half of last season.
The main irritant was that it robbed him of the chance to play at Hampden.
Having played his part in the early rounds of last term’s League Cup run, against Livingston and then Dundee United, he was sidelined just prior to the semi-final against Inverness at Easter Road and was just another anxious supporter when his team-mates ran out at the national stadium.
“We are trying to replicate the good run again this year and it would be great if we could get to the final again. I was gutted to miss out. Even missing the semi-final as well. It was the day before the semi that I got injured so to miss out on winning on penalties. The atmosphere in the dressing room afterwards was unbelievable. Then to play at Hampden at 18 would have been incredible.
“I travelled through with the team and stayed the night before the game and was in there for the team talk and I wished the boys all the best and it was nice to be there and be involved with the team. But, to be there and not be playing was devastating.
“That would have been the biggest game I had been involved in and that’s why I want to get there again.”
It was the hardest moment of his career so far and, although he wasn’t alone, with several crocked team-mates alongside him in the stands as Hearts lost 3-2 to St Mirren, he wants the perfect redress this term.
“I was sitting in the stand with half the squad, but I think that’s why we are so keen to get there again and make sure we are involved. I went into the dressing room afterwards but there’s not much you can say to someone after they have been beaten in a final.”
With such a big battle on their hands simply to stay in the top flight this season, the cup is secondary, but Paterson says it has to still be a target. On Wednesday Queen of the South will try to halt them but Paterson says that team spirit was honed in last season’s tournament and can help deliver results again.
“The main focus is getting back to zero in the league but if we can keep progressing then we will keep being up for the games.
In the Dundee United game and then the Inverness game it showed that we had all gelled so much. This year it was the same against Raith Rovers and we just need to keep going. That night we didn’t have our best game but we got through.”