Dundee Utd V St Johnstone at Tannadice Park : Match Preview

03 May 2013 09:01
Dundee Utd V St Johnstone - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

Donnelly targets three-point haul

Dundee United assistant manager Simon Donnelly has challenged his side to get back to winning ways in their Clydesdale Bank Premier League match with St Johnstone at Tannadice.

The Taysiders have suffered successive post-split defeats to both Motherwell and Ross County to all but dash their hopes of securing a place in Europe.

United were pipped by Celtic in their recent Scottish Cup semi-final defeat after extra-time and now have only three SPL games left in which to try and finish the season on a high.

Donnelly wants to see them banish their recent dip by getting the better of European hopefuls Saints.

He said: "That's got to be our aim. We obviously want to finish as high as we can with the games that are left. We got into the top-six and it was great with the Aberdeen result but since then it has been a wee bit flat which we want to change.

"We had a good performance in the Scottish Cup semi-final against Celtic and we were a wee bit unlucky in the two games since.

"We didn't start the Motherwell game well and Friday night up at Ross County was a wee bit disappointing for us as well.

"But there are three games to go and you want to kick on as much as possible. You've got one eye on preparations for next year but we've got three games to play and nine points.

"Our message is let's go and try and get the nine points. It's a knock-on effect for everybody.

"There are players out of contract and there's the financial side of it for the club as well with moving positions in the league so we've got to go and approach these games like any other game."

Donnelly reckons the issue of professional pride will spur them on as well against Steve Lomas' men.

He said: "That's a big thing. There's self pride at stake as well.

"There might be chances there for boys to go and show us what they've got.

"The two young lads Ryan Gauld and John Souttar in particular have come in, have done really well and have held their own in the games they've played.

"We're definitely looking forward to the three games and it's not a case of winding down here - we want to kick on and win these games."

United are without suspended full-back Barry Douglas after an appeal against his dismissal in the defeat to Ross County was rejected.

However, striker Johnny Russell is in contention to start after recovering from his broken leg.

Richie Ryan and Keith Watson are struggling with knocks and defender Gavin Gunning remains sidelined by a knee injury.

Saints boss Lomas has no issue with Celtic's decision to 'sacrifice' Clydesdale Bank Premier League games as they focus on their own trophy ambitions.

The Perth side's win over Inverness last week has put them right in the mix for a Europa League qualification slot, with the Highlanders, Lomas' team and Ross County now set for a three-way fight for third place.

Just two points separate the three teams but Hoops boss Neil Lennon says he is ready to forgo SPL points in favour of keeping his men fresh for the William Hill Scottish Cup final with Hibernian on May 26, starting with Sunday's meeting against the Staggies.

That could boost County's European ambitions but Lomas insists he will not grumble about Celtic resting players.

The Northern Irishman told Press Association Sport: "I'll just look after my own house. It's hard enough managing one club. Neil is perfectly within his rights to do what he feels is best for Celtic Football Club.

"We are just going to deal with our side of things. If we can get a result, it will be a massive boost.

"Every game is a cup final for us now and for numerous reasons - for qualifying for Europe, for prize money, for re-signing boys. For the lads to be in the mix to qualify for Europe for the second season running is a huge achievement."

Lomas is sweating on two of his midfielders but hopes to have Murray Davidson back in his line-up.

The Perth men may have to do without on-loan Newcastle youth Mehdi Abeid due to a thigh strain while Irishman Patrick Cregg is struggling after jarring his knee.

But Davidson has recovered from an ankle knock and returns to Lomas' squad after missing last week's win over Inverness. Long-term absentees David Robertson and Jamie Adams, meanwhile, remain on the sidelines.

Source: PA