St Johnstone defender Jamie McCart feels resilience has been a key component in their impressive run as they bid to overcome a major setback ahead of their latest Hampden trip.
The Perth side lost four unnamed players ahead of their Scottish Cup semi-final against St Mirren following a Covid-19 outbreak.
Although first-choice Zander Clark had been declared fit after a toe injury, the club have brought in Hearts goalkeeper Zdenek ‘Bobby’ Zlamal on an emergency seven-day loan ahead of the game.
Zlamal’s only three appearances this season came in a similar loan spell with St Mirren when the Paisley side’s goalkeeping contingent were all in self-isolation.
St Johnstone’s odds may have lengthened because of the setback but they faced a more difficult situation in the quarter-final when Rangers took the lead at Ibrox in the 116th minute.
Clark hauled them into the last four when he went up and headed a corner in off the foot of team-mate Chris Kane to equalise before starring in the penalty shoot-out.
Saints also came through a tricky period in the Betfred Cup semi-final when they beat Hibernian 3-0 after being outplayed in the opening half hour.
After playing well without getting much reward in the opening months of the season, Saints sat bottom of the Scottish Premiership midway through October.
But the Betfred Cup winners travel to Mount Florida in fifth place in the table and looking to move 90 minutes away from an unlikely cup double.
McCart said: “That’s been a big marker for the upturn in our form, the resilience and character we have shown. I think earlier on in the season, if we went a goal down, that was kind of the game done for us.
“It has shown in recent results, any tough starts or negatives, we are bouncing back quite quickly. That’s a real strong positive for us in regards to confidence. I would put that down to an upturn in resilience and character from everyone.
“The quarter-final was like a final from the way we won it. Especially a Rangers team who hadn’t been beaten at Ibrox all season domestically, it was massive for us.
“And even the circumstances. When they score you are almost down and out but, I say Zander, but Chris Kane heroically scored the goal, which he doesn’t get credit for.
“The full emotion and everything that happened just gives us all a boost.”
The centre-back is looking to emulate his father, former Motherwell defender Chris McCart, in winning the competition, not that Celtic’s head of youth development mentions the 1991 triumph much.
However, his son was handed a reminder of how special a cup triumph is after their final win over Livingston.
“He said that after I won the Betfred, he has still got the main one,” McCart said. “This would be a great opportunity to get through to the final and catch up with him.
“My dad never speaks about it. His medal is sitting in a cupboard somewhere in the house, there is nothing to show he has won it.
“It’s more everyone else who is telling me. I can’t remember specifically when I found out but it definitely didn’t come from him anyway.
“That was a really good reminder of it in the Betfred with players like Liam Craig and Craig Bryson, very experienced players who have had wonderful career, but they had never won a trophy.
“What it meant to them trickled down to us younger players, you might never get that opportunity again. So we have fully got to grasp the opportunity.”