Dunfermline manager Jim McIntyre reckons his side will face a “buoyant” Raith Rovers in tonight’s Fife derby.
One player who is also relishing the game is Steven McDougall, who returned to the first team on Saturday after being out with a broken toe.
McDougall, who was signed from Airdrie United, looks like spearheading the Pars attack, with winger Willie Gibson rated as “50/50” by McIntyre after picking up a groin strain in Saturday’s match.
“It was great to get back-it was my first start for six weeks,” he said. “We have to play each game and look to win it. The team still has a lot to play for.”
Raith’s Stephen Simmons has revealed that his side started preparing for tonight’s match as they sat in the Dens Park dressing-room following their stunning quarter-final victory over Dundee.
Kirkcaldy has been gripped by cup fever. Simmons and the rest of the Raith players, however, are fully focused on their number one aim for the season — first division survival.
“Our feet were back on the ground right after the cup game as the manager immediately stressed how vital the next two matches against Dunfermline are for us,” said former Pars player Simmons.
“Although we were celebrating our cup win, we were already thinking about Tuesday night’s game.
“We have two derbies within the space of five days and they are the most important matches to us at the moment.
“I missed the first derby at East End Park earlier in the season. So I will be delighted to finally go back there — I am sure I will get a good reception,” he laughed.
Although the league remains their top priority, Simmons and the rest of the Raith players were on the edge of their seats as they watched yesterday’s cup draw together before training.
Simmons missed out on a Hampden semi-final appearance with Dunfermline three years ago as he was suspended and he is keeping his fingers crossed that lightning does not strike twice.
“Reaching the semi-final is extra-special for me as I missed out when Dunfermline got through to the same stage,” he added.
“I hope to get my chance in April but, as you saw at the weekend with David Beckham, anything can happen in football.”
Raith manager John McGlynn emphasised that there is still a lot to play for in the league before Raith can enjoy their big day out at Hampden.
“The semi-final has been put on the back burner for the moment,” he said.
“We have a lot of games to play in a short period of time and it would be nice to be in a secure position in this division before it came to the cup match.
“Dunfermline had a good victory on Saturday against Queen of the South.
“But we are also confident so it sets things up nicely for a good derby game.”
Raith will once again be without Iain Davidson, Mark Campbell and Craig Wilson for the match, while there is a major doubt over Dougie Hill.
The Pars boss is confident East End Park will house its second biggest crowd of the season when the two sides lock horns.
Dunfermline hold the upper hand in the fixture, having won a Co-Operative Cup tie 3-1 in August before being brought down to earth with a 2-0 home league defeat in the same week.
However, they gained revenge for that with a last-minute winner in a pulsating 2-1 win at Stark’s Park in November.
McIntyre, who confirmed that the club had yesterday lodged an appeal against Calum Woods’ sending-off against Queen of the South, insisted that his team know they are in for a difficult match tonight.
“Raith had a fantastic result against Dundee,” he said.
“It’s a derby so it would have been a big game anyway. They’ll be in buoyant mood after a great performance at Dens Park.
“Raith have done very well this season.
“John McGlynn has done a fantastic job there, which has been capped off with getting to the semi-finals of the Scottish Cup.
“We know they are dangerous opponents — they’ve beaten us once this season. The derby matches have been tight and we don’t expect anything different tomorrow.
“But we’re on good form ourselves and it’s up to us to try and take a positive result.”
With Raith Rovers now lined up to meet either Rangers or Dundee United in the semi-final, McIntyre acknowledged that their achievement will boost the attendance at East End Park.
“It means a lot to both sets of supporters and it’s a big game,” he said. “It’s games like this you want to play in and, apart from the Celtic match, it should be our biggest crowd of the season.
“We’re looking forward to a good crowd and atmosphere and hopefully the players can put on a performance.”