NO matter how much homework Brendan Rodgers and his backroom team do in the build-up to the Betfred Cup final, Motherwell will still be something of an unknown quantity to Celtic come kick-off at Hampden at three o’clock on Sunday afternoon.

Despite playing 18 games in all competitions and 13 matches in the Ladbrokes Premiership so far in the 2017/18 season, the Parkhead outfit have still to face their Fir Park rivals. Remarkably, their meeting this weekend will be the first of three encounters between the two clubs in the space of just six days.

Stephen Robinson’s men, who knocked out Aberdeen and then Rangers in the previous two rounds, are hopeful that unfamiliarity will work to their advantage and enable them to pull off what would be an historic triumph against opponents who are now undefeated in no fewer than 64 domestic fixtures.

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But at least one member of the Scottish champions’ side will be well aware of what a key player in the underdogs’ starting line-up is capable of. Kieran Tierney, the Celtic left back, went to school with Chris Cadden, the Motherwell winger, and the two remain friends to this day. He will not, then, be taken by surprise by the man he will be in direct opposition to.

“I was a year ahead of Kieran and through football you get to know each other,” said Cadden. “I played against him when we played in the youth teams. He didn’t get to play for the school team. I always knew he played for Celtic. He is a good mate of mine. He lives around the corner from me. But I won’t be speaking to him before the final that’s for sure.”

Despite his in-depth knowledge of Tierney’s capabilities, Cadden won’t be affected by any inferiority complex when he takes to the field this weekend. Motherwell upset the odds and overcome the second and third best teams in the country en route to the final and he is convinced they can do so once again.

“I said before the semi-final against Rangers that we couldn’t go out just to make up the numbers and it is the same again here,” he said. “We have to perform to the best of our ability. We are going there full of confidence.

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“Someone has to beat Celtic so why can’t it be us. We have beaten Aberdeen and Rangers to get to the final so we are confident we can beat them. Rangers still had a good team because they spent a lot of money in the summer. To beat them gave us confidence. We got a wee taste of winning at Hampden and we want that feeling again.

“We are looking at them and thinking: ‘Someone has to beat them!’ They aren’t going to go through their full history without getting beat. Why not us? We can go out there and do it.

“You have to beat everyone at the end of the day. We just took the draws as they come. And I think in every round we have been brilliant. In the Aberdeen and Rangers games we were fantastic. If we go out and play the way we did against them there is no reason why we can’t go out and win.

What is more, the 21-year-old is positive his side can do so playing football and silence those who dismiss them as nothing more than a dirty team who only made it to Hampden by employing underhand tactics and getting away with it.

The fallout to their 2-0 win over Rangers in the semi-final centred on the broken nose which Fabio Cardoso suffered following a challenge by Motherwell striker Ryan Bowman. Rodgers was particularly vocal in his condemnation of their uncompromising playing style. But Cadden feels their reputation is unjustified.

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“We like to play on the front foot and we are physical,” he said. “We got criticised after the Rangers semi-final, but I think if you look at the stats we are sixth for yellow cards in the league, so we aren’t over-physical.

“I didn’t care what people said after the game because all I worried about was making the final. After the game it was all about Rangers and how we made the final because they played badly. On the day I thought we were brilliant and we made them look average.”

Cadden, whose twin brother Nicky plays for Championship club Livingston, was at Hampden when Motherwell last played in a final there five years ago.

His side was on the losing team that day and he is, with a host of friends and family due to be among the 13,000-strong Steelmen support, he is determined the final outcome this time around will be different.

“I like the national stadium,” he said. “I love it. I was at the Scottish Cup final in 2011 when we lost 3-0 to Celtic. I think the family are running a bus to the game and they can’t wait for it. I can’t wait for it. It is beyond my wildest dreams. It will be unbelievable.”