Aberdeen midfielder and former captain Ryan Jack must play in Saturday’s Scottish Cup final according to Gothenburg Great Neale Cooper.
Jack, who has turned down a new contract at Pittodrie and is a signing target for Rangers, lost the captaincy to Graeme Shinnie on Tuesday.
Cooper, who played in the all-conquering Dons side of the 1980s, believes Jack, pictured, should face Celtic at Hampden on Saturday and said: “It looks like Ryan is heading to Rangers and it’s unfortunate that has been part of the build-up for the game. I’m sure that is the last thing he and his manager wanted.
“He has said he won’t be at the club next season and the manager accepts that, but Aberdeen cannot waste the quality he has. He sits in front of the back four and pulls the strings for the team.
“It’s Derek’s call of course, but I would play him. He has been a good servant to the club and the manager saw enough in him to make him captain in the first place. He has to pick a team he believes gives him the best chance of winning the cup final and Ryan is a quality footballer.
“He has had a very good season and is a key player. That’s the only criteria I would base my decision on when picking a cup final team.”
Cooper was part of a Dons side which did the opposite in the 1986 Scottish Cup final when manager Sir Alex Ferguson dropped attacker Eric Black for the final against Hearts.
Cooper said: “Eric agreed to move to France to play for Metz and when the manager found out he dropped him from the team altogether. Eric was a quality player for us and it was a massive call from the manager, but that was what he was like.
“If you didn’t want to play for him he didn’t need you.
“Thankfully we won the game, but it was a brave call by the manager.
“The game has changed since then and players move on all the time. Ash Taylor, Niall McGinn and Peter Pawlett are coming to the end of their deals and they’ll be in contention to play so I don’t see why the situation would be any different for Ryan.”
The Dons are huge underdogs for the final but Cooper believes his former club can upset the odds if there is no repeat of their poor display in the 3-0 League Cup final loss to the Hoops in November.
He said: “Aberdeen showed Celtic too much respect in the League Cup final. Derek has players who can hurt Celtic, but everyone has to be in top form.”