League Cup semi-final: Dundee United v Aberdeen
Venue: Hampden Park Date: Saturday, 31 January Kick-off: 15:00
Coverage: Live on BBC Radio Scotland & online. TV highlights: BBC One Scotland 22:30
A return of Glasgow derbies between Rangers and Celtic will benefit Scottish football, according to the Ibrox club’s caretaker manager.
Kenny McDowall was speaking ahead of Sunday’s Scottish League Cup semi-final at Hampden Park.
It will be the first meeting between the sides for more than three years.
“I think Scottish football needs this fixture,” he told BBC Scotland. “Hopefully it will help Scotland get back to better things in the future.”
Rangers have had two consecutive promotions but go into the game as rank outsiders, sitting as they do 13 points behind Scottish Championship leaders Hearts.
Celtic’s improving form has, meanwhile, allowed their traditional city rivals to regain the lead in the Premiership.
“There’s obviously a gap and Celtic are the Scottish champions,” said 51-year-old McDowall.
“I don’t think there’s ever been such a gap as there is at this moment, so that’s what makes it a difficult game and that’s why the bookies are making them favourites.
“But, as we all know, it’s the Cup and cup football can bring surprises and, come Sunday, I hope it is Rangers who go through to the final.”
McDowall, who played midfield for Partick Thistle and St Mirren, took over after Ally McCoist handed in his notice in December and was put on gardening leave.
The former assistant is working his own notice after following suit, but he shrugged off suggestions he was in a job he did not want.
“I’ve just got to do my best,” he said. “I’ve got a bit of experience working with great people who have led the team.
“So I can take bits and pieces from everything I’ve learned over the past few years.
“But the biggest thing for me is the players put on a performance for themselves and our supporters and do themselves proud.
“If we do well enough to get to the final then I’ll be delighted.”
McDowall, who was Celtic’s reserve-team coach before joining Rangers as Walter Smith’s number three, revealed that his former boss was still on hand to offer advice.
“I have spoken to Walter a few times, but Walter is a friend as much as anything and I speak to him daily,” he said.
“I am just laughing because his advice is ‘just go and win the game’. He was obviously the master at doing that.
“Obviously it is a different week because of the enormity of the game, but we are trying to keep them as calm as we can and we’ve kept it as normal as we can.”
McDowall realises that Rangers’ worldwide supporter base will be behind him on the day.
“It obviously affects that amount of people and you just want to do well for them,” he added.
“It is a fantastic chance to get get to a cup final for the club and we’re looking forward to it.”