Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes is relishing the return of the New Firm derby when his side face Dundee United at Tannadice today.
This afternoon’s encounter will be the first league meeting between the sides since Simon Church scored the only goal of the game in a 1-0 away win for the Dons on 2 March 2016.
The Tangerines spent four successive seasons in the Championship after suffering relegation in 2016 before making their return to the top flight this term.
The Dons boss is expecting to come up against a United side with a point to prove after their shock 1-0 home defeat against Peterhead last weekend.
He said: “We have seen in the past that the League Cup games can throw up surprising results.
“Dundee United have been very steady on their way back after being promoted. They have had some good results, as well as some disappointing ones.
“They have shown enough they can do well and compete in the Premiership, so we have to be wary of that.
“Any team would miss their main striker as they have done with young Lawrence.
“I know Micky Mellon has made a couple of signings to try to bolster the squad. It will be a tough game for us and we look forward to the challenge.
“Of course it would be much better with the fans all there. Some of my favourite memories as Aberdeen manager are going down to Tannadice and winning exciting games.
“With the fans in that Cowshed filling the place and celebrating with the players.
“We have had some brilliant victories down there and the fans look forward to it as much as the players. It is a real shame the fans won’t be there as it is an integral game in our calendar.
“We recognise how much the victory would mean to the supporters as some victories are worth a bit more against certain teams. If we beat them on Saturday, it will mean an awful lot to them as it will to us.”
Dundee United will welcome back striker Lawrence Shankland, who scored 29 goals in 35 appearances last season before the Championship campaign was brought to an abrupt halt by the coronavirus pandemic.
McInnes knows only too well the danger posed by the 25-year-old, who spent four years at Pittodrie.
He said: “Lawrence’s progression over the past couple of seasons has been fantastic.
“He has just became a father to a young daughter. I’m still in contact with him and I know his family well. It is a big moment for them this week with Lawrence becoming a dad.
“I think with the maturity he has shown over the last few seasons has been excellent. He is a fantastic finisher and that is the reason we took him from Queen’s Park.
“We saw the potential in him. Dundee United have a very good player there. We have to try to limit that service into him and keep his influence to a minimum.”