A FREAK injury denied Mikey Devlin a Betfred Cup Final appearance, and the Dons defender is determined a freak upset against Queen of the South won’t end his prospects of playing in the Scottish Cup Final.
This afternoon’s home fifth-round tie with the Championship side marks the former Hamilton Accies captain’s first start since damaging a foot during training with the Scotland squad last November.
That meant missing out on a potential debut against Albania or Israel, as well as a certain start in the League Cup Final that Aberdeen lost to Celtic the following month.
Now Devlin is finally fit enough to play his first game in three months as replacement for Scott McKenna, who is suspended following his dismissal against Rangers in midweek.
However, the central defender will only really be satisfied if Aberdeen go on to finish the season back at the national stadium with the chance to end their 29-year-wait to lift the trophy.
Devlin said: “All your work is built up to making finals and you want to play in the biggest games. There’s none bigger than a cup final at Hampden.
“My first experience of playing there was the League Cup semi-final against Rangers, which went well for us and we got through.
“So it was disappointing for me to miss the match and not being able to help the boys in any way. But they did great and only lacked the rub of the green to get the win.
“There’s an expectation at this club that you get to the latter stages of the cup competitions. We want to go one further now and actually win them.
“We had the opportunity to do that already this season but it didn’t work out for us and I missed the chance to play.
“We are desperate to be successful and win trophies here. But the first thing is to make sure we take care of Queen of the South, as that will be a tough hurdle.”
Of course, Devlin has had to get used to long spells on the sidelines lately after spending 12 months recovering from a cruciate ligament injury suffered playing for Hamilton Accies in May, 2017.
The frustration of that experience actually helped the player cope more easily with this latest spell of rehabilitation, as did the form Aberdeen showed during his enforced lay-off.
He added: “It was a difficult month or two, but it always is when you are stopped doing what you love. But I can call on that experience of being through tough times before.
“You just have to focus on things and be positive, as being negative doesn’t help when you are trying to get back.
“The only consolation is that the boys have been great during my time out, as that helps you be patient and get yourself right.
“As much as I want to be playing again, the team went on a really good run that took us back to where we should be, near the top end of the league and we are still in the cup.
“The performance against Rangers was good the other night and I felt we dominated the second half, so it was frustrating not to get a result.”
Of course, Jimmy Calderwood’s Dons side lost a Scottish Cup semi-final to Queen of the South 11 years ago. But shocks like that have been a thing of the past since Derek McInnes took charge.
A League Cup defeat to a Hibs team on the way back to the Premiership, remains the only time they’ve lost to lower-league opposition under the current manager.
They did need a replay to see off Stenhousemuir in the last round, but Devlin knows 37-goal Stephen Dobbie (inset)will need special attention today.
He added:”It’s an impressive run he’s on and he’s player I watched a lot when I was younger, when he was in big games down south, like play-offs.
“He was a Scottish boy doing well down there, so you kept an eye on him and he’s been fantastic for Queens. His scoring record has been immense.
“We are under no illusions that it will be a difficult task to keep him quiet, he is still good enough to play at the top level.”