Aberdeen defender Michael Devlin plans on putting his first Hampden experience to good use when he makes his return to the National Stadium in the Betfred Cup semi-final next weekend.
The Dons defender earned a late call-up to Alex McLeish’s Scotland squad at the weekend and his selection gave him the opportunity to experience Hampden for the first time as a player. It’s an experience he was glad to call on ahead of his side’s semi-final against Rangers next Sunday.
Devlin said: “I have never played at Hampden before. So that was another positive for being involved with the squad. It allowed me to be a bit more familiar with the surroundings.
“We trained there on the Saturday and then we had the game on the Sunday. Being involved on a game day at Hampden was good with the semi-final next week in mind.”
Before Devlin can focus on trying to reach the final the defender is firmly fixated on Saturday’s trip to Edinburgh to face Premiership leaders Hearts.
Craig Levein’s side are seven points clear of the Dons following an excellent start and but Devlin believes the return of several first-team players ensured Derek McInnes’s side head for Tynecastle in confident mood.
He said: “There is total belief in what we are trying to do. If you look at our results over the season, we have had two defeats, against Kilmarnock when we played for 86 minutes with ten men and away to Celtic when we could have got something from the game.
“There have also been a couple of draws that we would not have wanted, but I think over the piece we are not a million miles away.
“We know there are aspects we need to fix and improve on, but we are working very very hard to try and rectify that as soon as possible.
“We have got a few more boys back from injury and now it looks a really good competitive squad. You have more players vying for positions in the starting XI, so there has been a real competitive edge in training this week.
“There is a real depth to the squad as we still have a couple more to return.”
One of the players who will return is on-loan Manchester United striker James Wilson.
Devlin believes the forward’s availability is crucial for the upcoming matches.
He said: “Since the victory over Hibs in the cup I feel the performance levels have increased.
“We have been getting glimpses, more and more of what we are capable of and the quality that is there. James Wilson for example, when he has come in, he has shown his quality and is a really exciting prospect for us.
“It gives us great believe and confidence going into the big games that are coming up. We will be ready.
“There is a pressure, but it is the type of pressure that you need to thrive on. If you want to be a player who is successful with a big club, you need to thrive in the big games and go and try to win them, that is what is expected here. We are all delighted to be part of that and we are all pushing in the same direction to try and bring some success here.”