ST JOHNSTONE manager Tommy Wright has urged his players to win their League Cup semi-final with Aberdeen and keep their missing team-mates’ Hampden dream alive.
The Perth side take on the Dons at Tynecastle tomorrow with a place in the 16 March final up for grabs. But they will be without the injured Steven MacLean, Murray Davidson and Alan Mannus, as well as suspended defender Tam Scobbie.
Midfielder Davidson has been ruled out for the rest of the campaign after snapping knee tendons but striker MacLean could return by the end of February.
Goalkeeper Mannus, meanwhile, is looking at a six-week recovery period after fracturing his thumb this week in training and Wright wants the rest of his squad to use the missing foursome’s plight as inspiration.
“I feel for the guys who are missing out but it happens in football,” said the Saints manager. “Injuries and suspensions are part of the game. The lads missing out have our full support but the only thing we can do with the ones who are injured is to get them fit as soon as possible.
“But the lads in the team could give all four guys a big lift by winning the game and putting us into a final. Maybe then the ones who are injured and Tam, whose suspension will be up, will still have something to hold onto in terms of having that dream they still might be able to play in the final.”
Forty-one-year-old Steve Banks was due to play regardless of Mannus’s injury after the Northern Irishman was sent off against Hearts last week but Wright insists he is losing no sleep over his selection woes. He said: “I’ve got my team in mind. Obviously, if Alan had been fit, he would have played but there is nothing you can do about injuries. But I decided on the team early last week and everyone who I want to be in it is fit right now, so we’re looking forward to the game.
“Getting to a final is not something we have done too often as a club in our history, but looking at how well we did in Europe, we can handle these tough games.”
Dons manager Derek McInnes saw his new striker Adam Rooney score in last Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Motherwell but Wright is not fretting about the opposition and instead plans to go on the attack in Gorgie.
He said: “Adam Rooney, Scott Vernon, Calvin Zola, Niall McGinn – no matter who Aberdeen play up front, they have got quality. Derek has a really good squad and they are sitting at the right end of the table this season.
“But we will prepare with a plan to cause them problems. Maybe in the past, we might have sat off them a little. But, in a semi-final, it is important that we try and make a mark on the game and get on the front foot.”