Kilmarnock manager Derek McInnes has urged his players to take their chance of a semi-final with both hands and told them they don’t want to be “sat at home watching Dundee United at Hampden on the telly”.
Killie host the Premiership strugglers in League Cup action at Rugby Park on Tuesday night and McInnes, who won the League Cup and lost two finals as manager of an Aberdeen team who always seemed to reach the latter stages of tournaments, is looking to build a similar reputation in Ayrshire.
He concedes that a place at the national stadium will be a carrot for both sides ahead of the game but his confident his squad can get through.
He said: “That has been the objective since the start of the competition, obviously we were in the group stages from the start of April, we then had a tough tie at Tynecastle and that stage it seemed a million miles away. But We tried to illustrate it to the players that you can quickly get through the rounds and before you know it Hampden is 90 minutes away.
“That is the bigger picture, so I think it’s important that clubs like ourselves try and seize that opportunity when it’s there.
“Dundee United will be the exact same tomorrow night it’s a big opportunity for both clubs, but from our part we have not been too great, at Kilmarnock, in the cups and we would like to be a strong cup team, we know the benefits of that, so for us to get to the semi-finals would be brilliant.
“Then we would only be 90 minutes away from everything a final brings.
McInnes knows only too well the benefits a cup run can bring to a team, reaching two finals as a player and four as manager, only falling short at the final hurdle on three occasions against a quadruple treble winning Celtic side managed by Brendan Rodgers in 2016, 2017 and 2018.
He said: “There are huge benefits to a cup run for a team, financial benefits, feelgood factor, but also for the players to go and experience the big games and go and try and win a trophy.
“We have seen other clubs of a similar size go and lift trophies in recent years, but it isn’t easy to get there, and we have a tough match on Tuesday night but all you can do is put yourself forward and hopefully build a reputation for being a good cup team, that’s what we want to be as well as being strong in the league so hopefully we can get the job done tomorrow.
“What we don’t want to be doing is sitting in January watching Dundee United at Hampden and we’re missing out and watching the game on the telly, we want to be there, we want to experience it and what my players to believe we should be there.”
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