By Jack Crawford

Former Dumbarton midfielder Jon Routledge insists his The New Saints side are in it to win it as they prepare to take on the Sons in an Irn-Bru cup semi-final this weekend.

Routledge spent a year at the Rock in the 2015-16 season where he became an integral part of the Sons midfield before moving on to the Welsh champions.

The inclusion of Welsh, Irish and under-20 teams in the competition has left many Scottish football fans frustrated as it was traditionally designed for the 30 teams in Scotland’s lower tiers.

But Routledge says that he doesn’t see the negatives and looks forward to the matches, saying they have a similar feel to the Champion’s League qualifiers TNS play in.

He said: “I’ve seen a few things about ourselves and the Irish sides being involved and I don’t really understand it.

“It’s something a bit different for the Scottish teams, as well as us, instead of playing the same teams every few weeks.

“I like being involved in this cup. It’s similar to the European trips we go on and a bit different to the usual league games. It feels a bit different but it’s exciting.”

Sons knocked out another Welsh side in the shape of Connah’s Quay Nomads in the Second Round of the competition after a win over Rangers Colts, before further wins over Stranraer and Raith Rovers got Dumbarton to the last four of a domestic competition for the first time in more than 40 years.

Welsh champions TNS, who joined the race at a later stage, knocked out Elgin City, as well as Sons’ Championship rivals Livingston and Queen of the South.

Dumbarton boss Stevie Aitken admitted to using his contacts before the game with Connah’s Quay, getting in touch with Routledge to give him some tips for the side he would be coming up against.

And while Routledge didn’t confirm this, he did admit his admiration for the Sons gaffer.

He said: “I don’t want that getting back to me!

“Stevie’s a good lad. I give him a message every now and then.

“He did a lot for me and I like to see him, and the club, doing well.”

After scraping past both Livi and the Doonhamers on penalties, Routledge knows that his team are in for a difficult afternoon on Saturday evening.

He said: “The games have been tight. We’ve been lucky in a couple. After the games go to penalties then they can go either way.

“There’s been a lot of changes at Dumbarton from my time there.

“Any team who is making the journey down is going to want to beat us and be up for it, so we’re expecting a tough game.”