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Page last updated at 16:01 GMT, Friday, 18 April 2008 17:01 UK

McInnes revels in semi-final test

SCOTTISH CUP SEMI-FINAL
Venue: Hampden Park Date: Sunday, 20 April Kick-off: 1500 BST
Coverage: BBC One Scotland, BBC Radio Scotland & BBC Sport website


Derek McInnes with the Scottish Cup
McInnes can't wait for a crack at his former team

St Johnstone manager Derek McInnes has had no problem motivating his side for Sunday's Scottish Cup semi-final with Rangers at Hampden.

"I am looking forward to the game, you have to enjoy these occasions," said McInnes, who took over at McDiarmid Park in November.

"Training has been bubbly and the guys are in the right frame of mind for the match at the weekend.

"We have to do ourselves justice on the day and try to grab this opportunity."

First Division Saints have been absent from the Premier League since their relegation in 2002.

And McInnes believes their cup run can only help the Perth club's efforts to get back into the top flight as soon as possible.

"The Scottish Cup is something we all want to win but its benefits are more than just silverware," he added.

"Every penny is a prisoner for many clubs in the SFL, including ourselves.

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"I feel that if we can get just a few more players then we will have a great chance of winning the league next season."

St Johnstone reached the semi-finals of the CIS Cup and Scottish Cup last season, losing out to Hibs and Celtic respectively.

Experienced midfielder Martin Hardie turned in a top performance and scored in the 2-1 loss to Celtic at this stage last year.

The 31-year-old has missed the vast majority of this season with a hernia problem but managed 90 minutes against Morton last weekend.

"For me, Martin Hardie was the best player on the park against Celtic in the semi-final last season," McInnes said.

"He's not fully match fit but he's had games and getting 90 minutes under his belt last weekend was a huge boost for him and the team.

"He has trained fine all week so he'll make it. He's an inspirational figure when he's in full flow and he drives us on so he's a big asset to the team.

"His determination to do well is amazing so we're delighted he's come back just at the right time because there's no doubt we've missed him this season."

Hardie is not the only season campaigner at McDiarmid Park, with McInnes able to call on the likes of Alan Main, Kevin James, Paul Sheerin and Jody Morris.

"I feel like I've got a lot of experienced players and the occasion won't faze them.

"The majority of the squad from last season are still with me and even a few of the boys that have come in have got Premier League experience.

"They'll realise the importance of the opportunity.

"That's exactly what it is when we see what's waiting for us in the final - Queen of the South, a team from our own division.

"No disrespect to Queen of the South, but we have a fantastic chance of winning the tournament if we can beat Rangers."




see also
St Johnstone v Rangers
18 Apr 08 |  Scottish Cups
McCoist demands focus from Gers
18 Apr 08 |  Rangers
Milne aims for Saints cup shock
14 Apr 08 |  St Johnstone


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