Courtesy of the Daily Record
MARK WILSON is desperate to get the nod for the Scottish Cup Final – but admits the man who could deny him a place deserves it more.
The Dundee United right-back is vying for the position with Tannadice defender Keith Watson with the pair used sparingly by boss Jackie McNamara for most of the season.
Only the Terrors boss knows who’ll play on May 17 against St Johnstone but Wilson would love to erase the memory of his first final for the club back in 2005 when they lost to Celtic.
But after picking up two winner’s medals with the Hoops in 2007 and 2011 he insists Watson deserves his chance to do the same for United in three weeks’ time.
Wilson said: “I’m thriving on the rivalry between Keith and myself. Competition is always healthy at any club. There are some games I’ve looked at and thought, ‘God, I wish I was playing in that’ but Keith will be the same.
“I got the nod for the semi-final against Rangers at Ibrox and against Celtic in the league at Parkhead. We’ve been neck and neck and it’ll be interesting to see who’s selected for the Final.
“But I’ve been there before, I’ve played in semis and finals. I’m desperate to play in this one but if not these young guys deserve a crack at it more than me because I’ve already experienced it.
“I’ve always vied for my position with someone else – except for when I was here the first time.
“As a young kid I was playing all the time, it was a bit like Andy Robertson here now. When I went to Celtic I had Paul Telfer, Andy Hinkel, Adam Matthews and Cha Du-Ri as competition. I’ve always had to battle it out directly with someone but I can’t say I’ve been left out of too many big games.
“In my first final for Celtic against Dunfermline I had been injured but was still disappointed not to make the bench. Instead, Jean-Joel Perrier-Doumbe played in my place that day and ended up scoring the winner.
“So, it would be brilliant to play in the Cup Final, it’s what you want to do as a kid and it would be extra special with United because that’s where I first got a taste for it.
“It was disappointing in 2005 because we lost and it was raining – I don’t look back too fondly on it. Hopefully this time we’ll have a sunny day at Celtic Park and we’ll take the trophy home with us.”
Wilson, 29, admitted he can’t play in every United game due to a series of niggling back and hamstring injuries over the years.
He often played through pain at Celtic in his quest for success but admits to now feeling as fit as ever because he’s willing to take a rest.
He said: “I want to play every game but I know that’s not possible.
“Keith has also had his injury problems over the years so we bounce off each other quite well. I’m feeling as good now as I did when I returned to United and it’s because I don’t play every game. If I did I wouldn’t be in this state or training every day.
“I’m well managed by the gaffer. He realises when I can and can’t play. When I was at Celtic I didn’t realise when I couldn’t, I wanted to do it all when it wasn’t possible.
“The physio and doctor would tell me it was okay to miss a few days training but I wouldn’t listen. Now that I’m older and wiser, I understand more.”