Adam Dodd believes helping Ayr United dump Hibernian out of the William Hill Scottish Cup would be the perfect tribute to his former youth coach Gary Parkinson.
Ayr manager Brian Reid brought the 18-year-old midfielder on loan to Somerset Park from Blackpool on the recommendation of Parkinson, who last year was left severely disabled and diagnosed with the rare “locked-in syndrome” after suffering a stroke.
The former Middlesbrough, Burnley and Preston right-back’s condition leaves him conscious, but he is only able to communicate using eye movements.
“The gaffer became aware of me through my old youth coach Gary Parkinson, who has unfortunately got what is called ‘locked-in syndrome’,” said Dodd. “He can only speak with his eyes after having a stroke. The manager spoke to him and got the go-ahead from him.
“He was a great coach and is a great person, I have been at Blackpool since I was 12 so have known him for a few years now, it would be great to do well for him.
“I have come out to get some experience and, hopefully, it will work in my favour at Blackpool.
“The gaffer had some contacts at Blackpool as he obviously played there. I also spoke to guys like Barry Ferguson, who said it was a good and to come to this league – so far I am enjoying it.”
Dodd is looking forward to another chance to test himself against top league opposition, after being part of the Ayr side that was beaten after extra-time by Kilmarnock in the Scottish Communities League Cup semi-final.
Although, having won their last two league matches and already recorded cup victories over Clydesdale Bank Premier League sides Inverness, Hearts and St Mirren this season, Reid’s men will go into the home tie full of confidence.
United also knocked Hibs out of last season’s Scottish Cup, and Dodd is hoping they can carry that momentum into Saturday’s meeting with Pat Fenlon’s side.
“I was fortunate to get some game time in our semi-final at Hampden, which was fantastic for someone of my age and it’s great we are doing well in the league now.
“Given our current league from and previous results against the big teams, Hibernian won’t be fancying coming here.
“We have done well against SPL opposition and after taking Kilmarnock right to the end we know we can do it.”
Meanwhile, Hibs defender George Francomb insists the SPL men are taking the Ayr threat seriously.
“Ayr are obviously just going to make it as hard as they can for us at home,” he said. “It’s the cup – anything can happen – but we just have to be professional and if we play how we have been playing, we should win the game.
“I’ve heard of the ground and the fans and all that goes with it. That’s what happens in the cup – you go to these places, but you’ve just got to be professional and make sure you come back with a win and get into the semi-final.”