Banks o’ Dee attacker Jack Henderson is relishing the chance to potentially test himself against the likes of Scotland stalwart Christophe Berra when Raith Rovers visit in the Scottish Cup.
Junior side Dee host the Championship outfit in the fourth round on Saturday, with Henderson and his team-mates also set to take on former Aberdeen youngster Ethan Ross, ex-Hearts and Kilmarnock keeper Jamie MacDonald and other players with top-flight experience like Jamie Gullan, Sam Stanton and Aidan Connolly.
A 2-1 win over League One East Fife in the third round in November put the sixth-tier Spain Park side in the hat for fourth round – with the draw producing a game which is the biggest in Dee’s 120-year history.
Now, forward Henderson is looking forward to taking on players like 41-times-capped ex-Hearts, Wolves and Ipswich centre-half Berra.
He said: “I don’t go out of my way to look (at the other team’s squad), but I know Ethan Ross is there – who I’ve come across when he was with Aberdeen Under-20s.
“We’ll try to contain his speed and technical ability as best we can.
“And I know Christophe Berra’s there.
“It’s just something I’d like to enjoy and see how I get on. It’s good for me to see where I’m at – and see how far off it I am.
“I think Ayr was the highest level team I’ve played against, and (Lawrence) Shankland was really starting to find his feet at that time, so that’s probably going to be the benchmark.
“This is going to be up there with it.”
The 800-strong crowd expected to be inside Spain Park on Saturday for the blockbuster visit of John McGlynn’s Championship title-contenders will certainly top the one which watched Dee meet Championship Ayr United in the third round of the national trophy in 2017.
Henderson played against The Honest Men and remembers it as a ‘great day to be a part of’, despite a 6-2 loss for the North Region Superleague side.
The attacker said: “I don’t think anything’s come close to it. There was a good turnout for Ayr, but I don’t think it was anything like what it’ll be on Saturday.
“I think everyone I’d like to be there will be there, so that’s brilliant.”
Henderson knows Dee – who are four tiers below the Kirkcaldy side on Scottish football’s pyramid – may not get many opportunities in the game, and will have to be clinical when chances to strike come along.
However, he thinks matching full-time Raith’s work-rate will be fundamental to getting a result, and said: “That’s how it’s going to be.
“We just need to try to be as ready as possible, because the pace and the intensity is not what we’re used to at all.
“That’s what’s difficult to adapt to.
“We’ve just got to do our best to match them the best we can. That’s all we can do.”
“We’re not going to have as much of the ball as we normally have, but we certainly won’t be changing our style – if we get the chance we’ll try to play a bit.
“To get the chance we have to try to work as hard as we can, and keep the score as close as possible for as long as possible.
“We’ll be going out to play our normal game and do the best we can.
“Similar to the East Fife, we’ll just try to go out on the day and do ourselves proud.
“Playing at home is always a boost, and having a lot of people there is a different environment for us as well, but I’m sure we’ll go out and enjoy it.”