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McInnes happy to be in the dugout when Pawlett is around

Derek McInnes admitted he would not like to face his in-form attacker Peter Pawlett as his Aberdeen side prepare to go head-to-head with St Johnstone in their William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final at Ibrox Stadium tomorrow.

Derek McInnes: players are in a 'good place'
Derek McInnes: players are in a 'good place'

Pawlett has become one of the most feared forwards in the SPFL Premiership, blossoming at Pittodrie this season under a manager who has at last instilled in him greater confidence following an Aberdeen career interrupted by injury as well as a loan spell with tomorrow's opponents.

"Thankfully, I don't need to play against him," McInnes said. "He's bright and he works the space brilliantly, whether it's in front or behind defenders. We don't want him standing still too much. With his pace he commits defenders. What hasn't been documented is his work-rate."

McInnes, without Jonny Hayes - he has damaged his shoulder - also has fringe players Alan Tate and Calvin Zola unavailable, but will look to Hull-born Pawlett to inflict the same kind of damage as when Aberdeen defeated the Perth side 4-0 in the League Cup semi-final last month.

"He scored a great goal in that game," McInnes recalled, "but he also pressed for the Adam Rooney goal.

"He does his shift when he doesn't have the ball and there's a willingness to do the dirty side of the game, probably more so than before, and he is the type of unselfish player who can be at the heart of a game and make an impact. He can punish teams. He showed it in the semi-final, but he's shown it consistently."

The League Cup triumph had, he insisted, offered his players an extra injection of confidence and a belief that a cup double could be delivered.

"The players are in a good place at the moment," he said. "They are self-motivated and hungry for more. "I said before the League Cup final that it would whet the appetite for the players.

"We can draw on the experiences like winning the cup and beating Celtic in the previous round when we were massive underdogs. We've beaten two Premiership teams to get to this stage and have earned the right to have another go at a final.

"I was really pleased with the performance against Hibs on Monday night. The players were really comfortable with each other and I saw a real hunger."

That 2-0 victory at Easter Road would have been monitored by St Johnstone as they will remarkably bid to score against Aberdeen for the first time this season - in their fifth attempt - and while McInnes conceded nothing must be taken for granted because of past statistics, he did issue a hint of a warning.

"It's very rare that we fail to score," he added. "We've only had one defeat since December and that is without key players at different times.

"Rooney has come in and given us something different up top and you can see the confidence Niall [McGinn] has with his two great goals the other night."

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