Aberdeen manager Jimmy Calderwood is anxious to avoid the feeling of semi-final heartache for the second time this season as he led preparations to face Queen of the South at Hampden today. The Dons were knocked out at the semi-final stage of the CIS Insurance Cup by Dundee United when they were crushed 4-1 at Tynecastle in February. Calderwood has never hidden his disappointment at the Dons display that night in Edinburgh. Calderwood is still rankled by the result and would hate to experience being a beaten semi-finalist once again, especially in a match his team are strong favourites to come through safely. He said: "Against Dundee United we let ourselves and our supporters down, especially after going one-nil ahead. Take nothing away from Dundee United, they were wonderful on the night. But I have to look at my own team and we were poor. I would hate to have that feeling again coming up the road on Saturday."
Having secured a top-six place in the SPL, Aberdeen head to the national stadium full of confidence. Calderwood has also been boosted this week by the return to fitness of Steve Lovell and Derek Young, while Jackie McNamara has recovered from a knock he sustained in Monday's win over Falkirk. But with the Dons boss only able to name 16 players in his match-day squad, Calderwood admitted he is facing a selection headache. He said: "You are going to disappoint a lot of good professionals, but that is part and parcel of being a manager and you have to make these tough decisions. I am just going to look at the game, the problems they can cause us and the form certain players have had, then take it from there." The Aberdeen boss believes he has Queen of the South well scouted and knows exactly what to expect from rival manager Gordon Chisholm's side. He said: "We have watched them three times. They are very well organised and have a dangerous strike-force with Sean O'Connor and Stephen Dobbie. They have two very seasoned professionals in Steve Tosh and Neil MacFarlane in midfield, and they are solid at the back. Gordon Chisholm has got them playing good football. The three reports have been the same and if our focus is not on the ball then we will get punished."
Queen of the South manager Gordon Chisholm will leave a decision on whether to include Sean O'Connor, who was stretchered off with a neck injury two weeks ago, until as close to kick-off as possible. Midfielder Neil Scally misses out due to a knee ligament injury and former Celtic defender Craig Reid and on-loan Kilmarnock forward Robert Campbell are both cup-tied. However, one man ready for action is striker Stephen Dobbie who admits he did not expect this to be the season when he returned to Hampden. Dobbie, who has scored 16 times in 36 games for Queens this season, will be the man Chisholm will be looking to for goals against the Dons. He scored as a substitute for Hibs in their League Cup semi-final against Rangers at the national stadium four years ago. He was a substitute again for the final, but was frustrated to miss out on a starting role, as Hibs blew their trophy chance by losing to Livingston. But not for one moment did the striker expect to be challenging for cup glory at this stage of the season with the Palmerston Park club. Dobbie said: "At the start of the season we didn't think we would be here. We were fighting relegation last season but we are sitting fourth in the league this season, so that's a step in the right direction. It's a one-off game and we have to take the game to them and make it a cup tie. They've obviously got good players that can pass the ball well so we have to get in their faces and try our best." The Dumfries side have never featured in the Scottish Cup final and this is just their second appearance in the last four - their previous semi-final appearance having come in 1950.
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