Paul Hartley wants his Cove Rangers side to enjoy the challenge when they travel to Premiership Kilmarnock in the fifth round of the Scottish Cup.
League One side Cove go to Killie on Saturday with the incentive of reaching the quarter-finals of the cup competition for the first time.
The Cove boss is expecting a tough test against Derek McInnes’ side, who sit fourth in the top-flight, but wants his players to enjoy what he believes is their “biggest test” of the season so far.
Cove defeated Breedon Highland League side Brora Rangers in the fourth round and fellow League One outfit Stirling Albion in the third round to reach the last 16.
Hartley said: “We are going to have to navigate a very strong Kilmarnock team. We have to go there and be as positive as we can to get a result – that’s why you are in the cup.
“We know we will have to play exceptionally well. We will have to defend well and be disciplined, but we have to go there and enjoy it.
“It is one of the toughest ties, especially with it being away from home. Our performance levels will have to be really high.
“We will go there and hope Kilmarnock maybe have an off-day and we bring our top game.
“You might need a bit of luck to get through these sort of games, but you need quality as well and we know we’ll need to create chances. There is no point going there sitting back and just defending because then you create your own problems.
“It is a massive game for the club. I am trying to play it down a wee bit for the players and go into it as a normal game.
“But we want to the players to go down and there work hard and really enjoy it.
“Everybody is raring to go and I have seen a real bounce in training this week. Everyone wants to start the game, but, unfortunately, I can’t pick them all.
“They will all have to be ready and the boys who don’t start will have to be ready to come on and make an impact.”
Cove Rangers boss attuned to Kilmarnock’s attacking threat
Hartley, who watched Killie beat Livingston 1-0 while on league duty on Wednesday night, is well aware of the threat his side will come up against in the fifth-round clash.
He added: “Every game is tough, but this is going to be the biggest test of our season.
“Kilmarnock are flying high in the Premiership.
“Derek has built a very strong squad, which he always does – he did it at Aberdeen for eight seasons and has gone to Kilmarnock and you can see the progress that they are making.
“You look at their forward players and I looked at their bench (against Livingston) and they carry a big threat.
“They have good options – they started with (Kyle) Vassell, (Marley) Watkins and Greg Stewart on Wednesday, but brought Kevin van Veen off the bench – and we have to be aware of all of those threats.
“I know Greg really well having signed him for Dundee.
“He poses a different kind of threat with his quality, but they are all quality players and are different kind of strikers, so we know we will have to defend properly.”
Against Kilmarnock, Cove will be without new signings Matty Shiels and Ola Lawal, who are cup tied after featuring in the cup for their former clubs earlier in the campaign.
Hartley also provided an update on Fraser Fyvie, who has been out with a knee injury since November, with the experienced midfielder now back in light training and is expected to return to full training next week.