ADAM CUMMINS still can't believe how he has made the leap from youth team rookie to first team starter for Motherwell in just five months.
The 19-year-old has played 15 games for Well this season and scored his first goal for the Steelmen a fortnight back in the 5-1 Highland hammering of Inverness.
Cummins' central defensive partnership with Shaun Hutchinson – which, at an average of just 201/2 years is far and away the youngest in the SPL – has increasingly become the bedrock of Well's resurgence up the SPL table to joint third. Now as Well prepare to mount a Scottish Cup revenge mission at Aberdeen tomorrow, the young Fir Park defensive ace is preparing for a real test of his physical strength from the Dons strike force.
Cummins said: "It has been a great start to the season for me and if anyone had said I would have played 15 games for Motherwell by the end of November then I would have laughed.
"But although it has been a real bonus I believe I have earned the game time. Basically, myself and Simon Ramsden have been competing to partner Shaun and of late I have been lucky enough to get the nod.
"So far I reckon Shaun and I have gelled pretty well, though, and to have got another three points up the road at Dundee United in midweek and get back in among the top three in the SPL was a big boost ahead of our trip to Pittodrie.
"Although I was at the club when we made it to the final two seasons back, I wasn't involved and it would great to be involved in another cup run.
"But Aberdeen will be determined to bounce back from their defeat to Inverness in midweek and we'll need to be at our best."
Ironically, Cummins made his first start for Well on March 17 in the 1-0 Fir Park SPL victory over the Dons last season.
But with Craig Brown's side having KO'd Well's Scottish Cup ambitions at the quarter-final stage in a controversial 2-1 success in Lanarkshire last time around, the defender is desperate to face the Granite City men again. Cummins said: "That defeat in the cup last year was a tough one for the lads, but we are going up to Pittodrie with plenty of self-belief.
"We have played them in the SPL already this season and were 3-1 up with six minutes to go but got pegged back, so that still rankles with the lads.
"Our away record has been excellent with wins at St Johnstone, Inverness and Dundee United. So I think we have proven that we are more than capable of getting wins on the road.
"We know it is going to be tough and obviously Niall McGinn has been on fire for them with nine goals and Josh Magennis got two against Inverness, but the challenge of keeping them quiet is one I am looking forward to.
"We have made a habit of nicking the first goal and if we can do that again tomorrow it would be a massive step towards the next round."