Derek McInnes admitted returning Kyle Lafferty’s big game pedigree gives him food for thought ahead of Kilmarnock’s visit to Hampden.

The Rugby Park side will visit the national stadium for the first time in over 10 years this Saturday as they battle holders Celtic for a place in the Viaplay Cup Final. Veteran striker Lafferty is available once more at the conclusion of a 10-game suspension, imposed after footage circulated on social media showed him using a sectarian slur in a nightclub.

Lafferty played 65 minutes in a reserve team fixture on Tuesday afternoon as he pushes for a place in his manager’s weekend selection. With new signing Kyle Vassell at his disposal, McInnes is unsure how much of a part the 35-year-old will play, but says his vast experience with the likes of Rangers and Northern Ireland can’t be discounted.

“That’s worth considering as a manager – the bigger the game, the bigger the performance,” the Kilmarnock manager said. “We’ve seen it before. Sometimes the bigger the game, certain players will go under, and you don’t get a performance.

READ MORE: Kyle Lafferty itching to face Celtic in Viaplay Cup semi-final

“We are aware of that, Kyle was pivotal in getting us promoted last season. He brings personality, which is really important in the bigger games and against better opposition.

“We've won games without Kyle. So, there is a level of player in the club at the minute. But having Kyle available makes us better, it gives me better options.

“From our senior to our youngest players, Saturday presents an opportunity. We want to be a club that arrives at semi-finals and finals over the next period.

“But there is no certainty of that. Some players go through their careers without getting the opportunity. So, for Kyle, I’m sure he’ll be appreciative he is back playing and available.

“Whether he is ready or not is really match decisions and match fitness. Although he has been training and has a good base fitness, like everything, it’s a semi-final at Hampden against Celtic and it will be a test for every player.

“We need to make that decision. Hopefully, on the back of Tuesday’s game, that’ll give him more confidence if selected.”

Alongside Lafferty and Vassel, the fit-again Scott Robinson further bolsters McInnes’ options, and he cautioned the former he has ‘work to do’ to become a regular fixture again.

“It feels like with Kyle Vassell, Scott Robinson and now Lafferty, it’s like three signings in January that we have not had available to us.

“He’s got work to do to get into the team, he’s got work to do to show that willingness to go and do the job for us that we have been needing him to do. The club has been good to him and it is important he knuckles down, tries and helps the team with our objectives.

“But he has not missed a day of training, he’s been at the games supporting and still had an influence in the dressing room. We just need him now to have that influence on the pitch.”

Killie lost 2-0 at Celtic Park on league duty at the weekend, and McInnes is aware plenty have written them off already. However, he’s sensing a belief around the club they can pull off something special.

“We’re just delighted and grateful for the opportunity to take on Celtic again in the cup, on the semi-final stage,” McInnes said. “We’ve got an opportunity to go and try and make the most of what’s in front of us. We’re going to have to perform almost pitch perfect, if not perfect, to overcome this Celtic team. We have a chance, some people won’t give us even that, but we feel we have chance.”