Cove Rangers manager Paul Hartley has challenged his young players to give Aberdeen a test when the city’s two senior teams go head to head in the Morrison Motors Aberdeenshire Shield tonight.
The League 2 leaders maintained their advantage at the top of the league with a 3-1 win at Cowdenbeath on Saturday but Hartley is set to ring the changes by fielding several of the club’s under-20 squad for the visit of Paul Sheerin’s young Dons to Balmoral Stadium.
Despite making changes to his line-up the former Dons captain wants the players who do feature to show their cup credentials tonight against an Aberdeen side which will lean heavily on their under-18 players.
He said: “We’ve been running with largely the same group of players week to week in the league so for the players who do get a run-out against Aberdeen it’s a chance for them to go and impress.
“Aberdeen will be fielding a young side too and we know what we will get – a tough game against a good side.
“It’s a test for ourselves to face a Premiership team but hopefully we can prove to be a test for them too.”
Hartley may be planning on making changes but he is expecting those who do feature to make the most of their chance.
He said: “The league is the number-one priority for us and I don’t think anyone would dispute that.
“We’ll be fielding a young side for this game but this game is a chance for some of the boys on the fringes to get some minutes under their belts.
“We’ve shown great character to bounce back from back-to-back defeats in the league and Scottish Cup by beating Albion Rovers and Cowdenbeath and we’ve got the rewards we deserved for our efforts.
“It’s easy to forget we’ve suffered only one league defeat so far.”