United booked their place in the history books by lifting the cup three years ago and, with key men like skipper Jon Daly and experienced defender Sean Dillon still in their ranks, McNamara believes it can only boost their chances of toppling Celtic and reaching next month’s final. McNamara said: “I think that is a good thing. We have the likes of Jon and Sean who can help the younger lads. They have won the Scottish Cup and know what to expect when they get to Hampden. We have to believe because we have a great incentive to get to the final.”
McNamara wants his side to express themselves on the big Hampden surface and has pin-pointed winger Gary Mackay-Steven to revel in the acres of space. He said: “You saw when GMS came on against Aberdeen on Saturday how the game got stretched. He created space and was a real threat. I think that could come into play.”
Keith Watson, another 2010 winner with United, believes the weight of expectation on Celtic can play into the hands of United. Watson said: “They haven’t done too well at Hampden recently so they will be looking to put that straight. Maybe a different kind of pressure is on them. Hopefully that record will be preying on their mind a wee bit.
“They will be favourites but I feel we are more than capable of beating them.”