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Wednesday 29th May 2024

Scottish League Cup Group Stage Draw - 1pm

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Aberdeen ace Mark Reynolds braced for week that will make or break season

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A League Cup semi-final one week and a Scottish Cup last-16 clash that looks more like a cup final the next.


Mark Reynolds reckons Aberdeen are facing seven days in February that will make or break their season.


The Pittodrie men face St Johnstone at Tynecastle in the League Cup last four on February 1 and then, the following weekend, it’s Celtic at Parkhead for a place in the quarter-finals of the Scottish Cup.


Never mind a week being a long time in politics, it’s a lifetime in football – and often a life sentence.


Reynolds knows all Aberdeen’s hard graft this term could pay off in seven frantic days – but could unravel just as quickly.


The defender said: “It will be a huge week that will shape our season.


“We could be through to one cup final and into the next round of the other – probably as favourites if we put Celtic out.


“I don’t think there can have been many bigger weeks for the club in recent years.


“We need to keep pushing and hopefully go into that week in a good position in the league as well.


“Players like having those kinds of big games to look forward to but we could be like Motherwell and out of both cups in December.”


Pulling Celtic out of the hat was the nightmare scenario – especially after seeing the Parkhead men set about Hearts like a pack of lions tearing a wildebeest to bits on the Discovery Channel.


It made for scary viewing but Reynolds refused to hide behind the couch.


He reckons Aberdeen would have had to see off Celtic at some stage if they were to win the Cup so they might as well get it over and done with now. Facing the holders and favourites on their home ground – which will also host the final – has given the last-16 clash a final feel about it anyway.


Reynolds said: “If you want to win cups, you need to beat Celtic. A lot of people will hope other clubs can do them a favour and put them out but that’s never been the way I look at it. You want to be involved in the big games and they don’t come any bigger than that.


“We’re up against the team everyone expects to win it – at the venue where the final will take place. So in many ways it’s like a dress rehearsal for the final.”


Reynolds watched Hearts being broken and knows what Celtic can do when the mood takes them but he still feels the Dons can stun them.


He said: “Celtic pay big money for players and that’s what they are capable of doing when it all clicks.


“But we won’t be going there expecting to lose.


“You just need to look at the teams who have gone there and drawn – or even won. I did it a couple of times with Motherwell.


“I’m not going to be giving it the war cry that we are going to win because it can come back to bite you. You can quite easily talk about getting closer and then go out and get spanked 4-0.


“There’s a long way to go and hopefully we will be flying when the time comes. All we can guarantee is Aberdeen will work as hard as possible to get a result.”


Aberdeen came within the width of a post of ending their Parkhead hoodoo recently. Niall McGinn hit the woodwork in the final minute but rather than winning 2-1, Celtic went up the park and netted twice in stoppage time. But Reynolds is adamant the Dons will be made of sterner stuff next time.


He said: “We can take confidence from that game. The manager spoke about how it is ingrained at Celtic to keep going for the whole 90 minutes and that’s something we need to do.


“We came within the width of a post of winning and then thought we had secured a draw but came away with nothing.


“It was a hard lesson but I am sure next time we will be better for the experience.”


Celtic can wait, though.

Aberdeen have a League Cup dress rehearsal against St Johnstone on Saturday and Reynolds wants to lay down a semi-final marker. He added: “It’s a long way off so I don’t think it will have any bearing on the league Cup game but let’s hope we can get the three points and maybe put a wee bit of fear in them for the semi- final.”

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