Dundee Utd V Aberdeen at Tannadice Park : Match Preview
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McNamara: United focussed on Dons
Dundee United manager Jackie McNamara is confident his side can keep their focus on Aberdeen ahead of the William Hills Scottish Cup Final with St Johnstone later this month.
Aberdeen visit Tannadice with 11 days until United's showdown with Saints at Celtic Park later this month when they will be bidding to get their hands on the famous old trophy.
But McNamara's side still have slim hopes of sealing a top-three finish in the Scottish Premiership ahead of their final two games of the season, against the Dons and Celtic.
And McNamara is sure his players have the right approach to ensure they do not let thoughts of the final get in the way of their remaining league matches.
McNamara said: "There is a lot of talk about the final. That is only natural as it's such a big game. But the lads are a very professional bunch who won't be letting themselves get ahead of anything.
"We've got two league matches before the final which we will be concentrating on, starting with Aberdeen.
"Like any game we go into, we will be looking to get the three points to finish as high up the table as possible.
"Aberdeen are always tough opponents but we will be focusing on ourselves first and foremost.
"We know we're capable of winning any game on our day and hopefully that turns out to be the case this time."
McNamara, who returns to the dugout following a recent three-game touchline ban, knows his players will not slacken off as they step up the fight for cup final places.
He said: "There's plenty incentive for the players. It's an exciting time for the club.
"We want the players to take every game as it comes to go out and show what they can do.
"Aberdeen deserve credit for what they have done this season. They've always been close games between the two teams this season and this one will probably be no different.
"We would obviously like to win what is the last home game of the season.
"It won't be easy but we can take heart from how we have played recently and hopefully take that confidence into this game."
United have concerns over four midfielders. Stuart Armstrong (hamstring) missed Saturday's draw at Inverness and Gary Mackay-Steven (chest infection) went off at half-time, while Paul Paton and John Rankin are both carrying knocks.
Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes knows there is still work to be done before he can fully reflect on a successful first full season in charge.
McInnes has completed a manager of the year awards double with plaudits from the Scottish Football Writers' Association following the PFA Scotland prize.
The League Cup winners wrapped up Europa League qualification on Saturday, despite a 5-2 defeat at Celtic Park.
But they are being pushed all the way by Motherwell for second place in the Scottish Premiership.
The Dons lead by a point going into their clash with Dundee United at Tannadice, with Sunday's meeting with the Lanarkshire side at Pittodrie looking like a decider after Aberdeen picked up two points from their first three post-split matches.
"I think that was always going to be the chance that that was the case," McInnes said.
"We suffered our first our league defeat in quite a while on Saturday and we're well aware that draws at this stage of the season, which we've had a few of late, won't always get the job down.
"We feel there's games to be won for us to be totally satisfied with our work this season. Games against Dundee united are always exciting anyway and the fact that both teams have a lot to play for it should be an indication of the type of game it's going to be. It's game on.
"It's two massive games for us and it's good to have something still to play for at this stage of the season. We certainly have plenty to go for.
"European football will be great to bring back to the club but hopefully now, the one last thing we can go for it is to finish the season strongly by finishing in second and that's incentive enough for anyone."
The game falls only 11 days before United's William Hill Scottish Cup final date with St Johnstone, but Jackie McNamara's men can seal a European spot before then if they win two games and Motherwell lose twice.
McInnes said: "United's priority is obviously the Scottish Cup but they have still got an outside chance of Europe through the league so I am sure they will be going for that.
"Any game against Aberdeen is big for them as it is for an Aberdeen player going against Dundee United, so there will be enough to make it competitive.
"Dundee United have had a really good season and the fact they have a cup final to look forward to suggests that. Jackie and his team have done extremely really There have been a lot of big performances form his players.
"Going to Tannadice is one of the toughest fixtures any team can have but it's one we enjoyed on New Year's Day and put in a strong performance to win the game and I am sure it will be something similar required to try and give us a chance to win this one."
Aberdeen striker Adam Rooney has been ruled out of the encounters with Dundee United and Motherwell after suffering an ankle injury at Celtic Park.
Clark Robertson should be fit for Tannadice on Tuesday night after a knock kept him on the bench on Saturday while fellow full-back Joe Shaughnessy (knee) is "touch and go", according to McInnes.
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