Graeme Shinnie’s only consolation for missing a second successive Scottish Cup semi-final through suspension is the belief that there will be a happy ending for Aberdeen in his absence this time.
The Dons’ influential captain is reduced to the role of spectator for Sunday’s last- four meeting with Celtic at Hampden after picking up yellow cards in each of the two games needed to dispose of Rangers in the previous round.
Not surprisingly, the midfielder believes there should be more tolerance shown to players who have been involved in extra games, especially as a booking in last season’s replay against Kilmarnock proved equally costly.
That kept the Scotland international out of the 2018 semi-final against Motherwell which turned out to be a chastening experience for Aberdeen, given the 3-0 defeat inflicted by the Fir Park side.
Now manager Derek McInnes and his players must try to end Celtic’s dominance of the domestic trophies without their inspirational driving force while Shinnie suffers on the sidelines in the hope of redemption next month.
“Missing another semi-final is horrendous,” admits Shinnie. “I missed a lot of league games through suspension last year but league games are different.
“You can help the team recover some of the points if they lose those but there’s no way back if you are banned for a cup-tie.
“In the case of this game against Celtic you are either in a final or out the cup and I can’t influence it at all. “I can’t remember how many games I’ve sat out in total but seeing the team lose to Motherwell last year was the toughest one I’ve had to watch. “Even the build-up to it and the night before knowing you’re not getting ready for the game was tough.
“Not that I was the only one as there was me, Kenny McLean and Shay Logan who were all suspended for last year’s semi.
“With it only being me this time it’ll probably help the team but the ruling is harsh. I’ve had five games what with the two replays in previous rounds, and two yellows ruling you out is a bit tough.
“But I’m confident the boys can get the win then, hopefully, I can get back in and lead them out in a cup final.”
Logan also misses out on another Scottish Cup semi-final because of injury this time, while former Celtic winger Gary Mackay-Steven is sidelined with an ankle problem.
Despite that, Shinnie is convinced there is enough talent in the squad to get the job done, especially as the weekend win at Dundee means Aberdeen have only lost once in 11 games away from home.
What’s more, former Dons player Ryan Christie’s Betfred Cup winning goal for Celtic is one of only two they’ve conceded in six games against the Old Firm in Glasgow so far.
However, McInnes’ side still have to prove they can do it without their captain as they lost four times when he was suspended last season.
Shinnie is certain they can cope now though and added: “We’ll just wait and see what happens but there’s so many boys waiting for their chance here.
“There’s no better way for them to come in and show what they can do than a semi-final against Celtic.
“They have the chance on the big stage to prove they can deliver and I believe they can step up and do it.
“It’s a massive opportunity to get to another final and the boys will be well up for it. All the results we’ve had in Glasgow against the Old Firm this season gives you that belief.
“It’s always tough going up against Celtic at Hampden but it’s a game we know we can win if we play to our capabilities.
“The League Cup final was a narrow game with not much in it and we drew at Celtic Park recently so the belief is in the squad.
“It’s weird it’s Celtic in the semi-final like it was when I went on to win the cup with Inverness a few years ago, but I hope it’s a good omen.
“I’d rather be playing, like I did for Caley Thistle that day, as it will be another hard one to watch, but I’m confident the boys can do it.”