Maurice Ross has called on his Motherwell team-mates to be fearless as they prepare to face Celtic in the Scottish Cup final.
The former Rangers, Viking Stavanger and Beijing Guoan defender is one of the few Steelmen stars to have Cup final experience, from his time with Rangers.
Indeed, he played the last time Motherwell reached a major final – opening the scoring with a deft lob over Gordon Marshall to instigate a 5-1 mauling.
However Ross, now in the claret and amber camp, doesn’t think stage-fright will hit again, and reckons Motherwell have the quality to hurt Neil Lennon’s side.
“We’re not going to Hampden to be cannon fodder for Celtic; we need to go at them,” the 30-year old challenged. “We’ve beaten them already this season and all the pressure is on them. I’m sure they’ve got the big players to handle that, but we need to go and be positive and realise that it’s a one-off match and we can win.
“We will need to start the match well, but there’s a bright, gallous quality about our squad. There’s no fear and we should be looking to push high up the field, be brave, and take the game to Celtic. We can’t let them settle as they’re too good and we’ll get penned in – let’s get right in about them straight away.
Few players will know the pressurised environment of the Old Firm as well as Ross. He spent nine years playing for Rangers, where anything other than consistent and emphatic success is considered unacceptable.
He is now looking to take that knowledge; that awareness, and use it against Celtic: “Neil Lennon will be saying ‘no, there’s no pressure on us,’ but there is. Let’s not be kidding ourselves here. They will be frustrated and desperate to win this trophy.
“We just need to defend well and get the ball up to boys like Murphy, Humphrey and Sutton and let them do the business.
“Any Cup final is massive, and any match against Celtic is massive. I just hope we can go there and give a good account of ourselves.”
The former Scotland international has shrugged off any suggestions that he will be guiding the younger players through the preparation for the final – “Nah, they wouldn’t listen to me anyway!” – but he does know that those playing in their first final are in for a special occasion.
Ross is looking to soak up that experience – and then top that off by gaining a place in the matchday squad which will face the Hoops.
“You have to enjoy the build-up. You get the stay at the hotel, the wee flower on your suit and those little things that make this different from every other week.
“You’ve got to cherish matches like this; 52,000 inside Hampden, everybody watching at home – there’s no other game on – and a final against Celtic. It’s just important the boys don’t freeze and let the game pass them by.
“I’m trying to show the gaffer that I’m ready to play my part. I’m fighting fit and I tend to do well in the bigger games, so hopefully that continues on Saturday.”