Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes believes the Betfred Cup final can be the stage which brings out the best in his Manchester United loanee James Wilson.
The English striker, who celebrates his 23rd birthday today, has so far struggled to make the kind of impact expected of him at the Pittodrie club.
Wilson has scored just twice in his ten appearances for the Dons and is yet to complete a full 90 minutes.
He was substituted at half-time as Aberdeen slumped to a dismal 3-0 defeat at Motherwell in the Ladbrokes Premiership last Saturday but McInnes is quick to stress he has no issues with the player’s levels of application which have been questioned by some observers.
Ahead of tomorrow’s Hampden showdown with Celtic, McInnes insists Wilson has the ability to shine on the big occasion.
“You sometimes hope the bigger the game, the bigger the performance,” said McInnes, inset. “You can tell a lot about your players in these moments.
“As a club, we’ve been in semi-finals and finals at Hampden enough times in recent years to familiarise ourselves with the surroundings.
“But for James, as well as young Max Lowe who we have on loan from Derby County, Sunday is a great opportunity to be part of a successful team at Aberdeen and also to accelerate their own careers.
“I’m hoping all my players perform well, regardless of who’s playing. I feel as though the level of performance required to beat this Celtic team will be greater than what we’ve shown, apart from in a few spells this season.
“Can we go and take Celtic on in a possession-based game? We have to be smart with our work. Games are normally decided by moments of quality and mistakes. We’ve got talent at the top end of the pitch with James and others and we have a real good work ethic as a team. That’s why we normally finish second in the league.
“To actually go on to that next step and win a trophy, you need a bit of everything to go your way. Like every team, we’re searching for that moment of quality from someone on Sunday.
“James works hard and I’ve no problems with him. Working hard is non-negotiable. If you don’t work hard, you don’t play and you don’t get signed. For me there are no problems with any of our players in terms of workrate. If we lose, we lose trying to be honest.”