‘Semi fans de­serve first shot at tick­ets’

Boss Mcinnes back­ing teen to be role model with new deal lined up

Evening Express (City Final) - - Front Page - BY SEAN WAL­LACE CHIEF FOOT­BALL WRITER

DONS boss Derek Mcinnes be­lieves Ham­p­den goal hero Lewis Fer­gu­son can in­spire any player who suf­fers a set­back. Mid­fielder Fer­gu­son was re­leased by Rangers at 14-years-old af­ter five sea­sons at the club. Fer­gu­son’s fa­ther Derek and un­cle Barry both en­joyed tro­phy-laden ca­reers at Ibrox. The teenager re­built his ca­reer at Hamil­ton and had the last laugh by net­ting the only goal in the 1-0 Bet­fred League Cup semi-fi­nal win over Rangers at Ham­p­den. Fer­gu­son signed a fouryear con­tract with Aberdeen this sum­mer. Al­though a free agent, the Reds were or­dered by an SPFL tri­bunal to pay his for­mer club Hamil­ton, who visit Pit­to­drie tonight on league duty, £220,000 in train­ing com­pen­sa­tion. Such has been Fer­gu­son’s im­pact it is un­der­stood the Dons are set to open up talks on im­prov­ing the terms of his cur­rent deal. Man­ager Mcinnes said: “Dis­ap­point­ment hap­pens not just for young

foot­ballers but in life. It is how you deal with dis­ap­point­ment and re­act to it. “Lewis had enough strength, de­ter­mi­na­tion and mo­ti­va­tion to go again. “He can be a real ex­am­ple to not just young play­ers but to any player who is maybe deemed not good enough for a club. “He is an old head on young shoul­ders and a very con­fi­dent and calm in­di­vid­ual. “Lewis is a dream to work with. “His con­fi­dence will be sky high go­ing into the Hamil­ton game af­ter play­ing such an im­por­tant role in the semi-fi­nal. “What a bril­liant mo­ment for Lewis, to get the win­ning goal at Ham­p­den.” Fer­gu­son will tonight go against Hamil­ton, the club where he res­ur­rected his ca­reer, for the first time since join­ing the Dons. The teen came through the youth ranks at Ac­cies be­fore break­ing into the first team last sea­son hav­ing made 14 starts for Martin Can­ning’s side. Mcinnes said: “It is good that Lewis has paid real recog­ni­tion to Hamil­ton and par­tic­u­lar Ge­orge Cairns (Hamil­ton head of youth) at the club who he felt put his arm around him. “Lewis had strong sup­port from his fam­ily and his mum and dad were right be­hind him. “He man­aged to find the strength and mo­ti­va­tion to keep go­ing and that is a great thing for any young player to have.” Fer­gu­son’s goal se­cured a Bet­fred Cup fi­nal slot with de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons Celtic at Ham­p­den on De­cem­ber 2. The cup run has been in con­trast to a stut­ter­ing league cam­paign with the Reds lan­guish­ing in eighth po­si­tion, 13 points be­hind lead­ers Hearts. Aberdeen have won just three of the open­ing nine Premier­ship fix­tures to date, with those vic­to­ries com­ing against sides lower in the ta­ble – St Mir­ren, Mother­well and bot­tom Dundee. Mcinnes chal­lenged his side to use the Ham­p­den hero­ics as a cat­a­lyst for a rise up the league be­gin­ning tonight against Ac­cies. He said: “There have been some dis­ap­point­ing re­sults this sea­son al­ready. “There have been rea­sons why we have not hit top form this sea­son and we want to get back to win­ning ways in the league against Hamil­ton. Do­ing that is very im­por­tant to us. “We are look­ing for far more con­sis­tency of per­for­mance. “Af­ter Sun­day there is a lot of en­ergy about the club and ev­ery­thing has cranked up a bit when you get to a cup fi­nal. “While we en­joyed the mo­ment at Ham­p­den and there is still the feel­good fac­tor about the place, the next chal­lenge comes around quickly. “We have to make sure we knuckle down and get on with the task in hand against Hamil­ton. They (Hamil­ton) have been do­ing well of late and it’ll be a tough game.” Aberdeen’s semi-fi­nal win over Rangers was also taken in by Cham­pi­onship side West Brom who sent a scout to Ham­p­den to watch Scott Mckenna. The Evening Ex­press ex­clu­sively re­vealed the Bag­gies were track­ing Scot­land in­ter­na­tional Mckenna with a view to a bid for the cen­tre-back in Jan­uary. They are the lat­est club to join the race to land Mckenna who is con­tracted un­til sum­mer 2023. Aberdeen re­jected a £7 mil­lion bid from As­ton Villa on trans­fer dead­line day for Mckenna. The win­dow for per­ma­nent deals for English clubs had closed when Villa made their move but they wanted a loan deal un­til Jan­uary be­fore push­ing through a per­ma­nent move. Aberdeen also kicked a £3.5m bid from Celtic for Mckenna into touch in the sum­mer and will not let their prized de­fender go for less than an eight-fig­ure sum. Mcinnes ac­cepts there will likely be more of­fers for Mckenna in the Jan­uary win­dow. He said: “There is no doubt a lot of teams have been watch­ing Scott. I am not sur­prised clubs are look­ing at him. I wouldn’t be sur­prised if there was more in­ter­est in Scott in Jan­uary. “But we will deal with that when it comes round rather than sit and worry about it in Oc­to­ber.” Andy Con­si­dine is out of tonight’s game with a neck in­jury sus­tained in the cup semi. He was stretchered off. Mcinnes said: “Andy will miss the game but should be back for Sun­day’s game at Kil­marnock.”

Aberdeen’s Lewis Fer­gu­son cel­e­brates the win at Ham­p­den with Derek Mcinnes

Man­ager Derek Mcinnes

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