Tam Scobbie knows all about Tayside derbies having played in enough of them for St Johnstone. However, it will be a step into the unknown for the 29-year-old defender now that he is at Dundee United when his side make the short journey to Dens this Sunday in the Betfred Cup. As is traditional, the Tangerines squad will walk to their rivals’ ground, something that came as a bit of a surprise to Scobbie, who said: “I just thought we’d get the bus, to be honest! “It will be something different that I haven’t experienced before. “I am sure when the fixtures were announced all the boys wanted to be part of it. “Everyone in the dressing-room will make sure they are properly prepared to go there and hopefully get a result. “It will be a massive game. Our fans have sold out their allocation of tickets so they will be looking forward to going up the road to their big rivals. “The manager said we will need to prepare properly which we will do. “We have a rest day on Monday but starting on Tuesday we will look to build up to the game. “I am sure they will be the same as I saw Neil (McCann) was disappointed with the Dundee performance against Buckie. “He will be at them to make sure they are right up for the game against us as it is massive for them as well. “It will be good to be involved in a big derby like that for the first time and I am really looking forward to it.” Scobbie and the rest of the United players will arrive at Dens in confident frame of mind with Sunday’s 4-1 win over Cowdenbeath at Tannadice making it three wins out of three so far in the Betfred Cup. He said: “It was a good win and it keeps the momentum going. “The manager has been speaking about that since I came in that these games weren’t just warm-ups. “The season started from the first game and we need to keep progressing and winning matches as we have been doing. “So it was a positive result against Cowdenbeath but we are just disappointed with the slack goal we gave away. “It is something we have been trying to implement into our mentality that we do not concede goals so we will sit down, look at it, see if we could have done better and take that into Sunday.” Scobbie added: “I think the performances have been good. “The manager shuffled things about a little bit against Cowdenbeath. “Some boys have picked up knocks but the lads who have come in have done fantastically well. “Matty Smith up top did brilliantly. “But everybody can take plaudits for the three wins as they were difficult games especially so early on in the season. “But they have been good for us.”
Raith boss John Hughes is facing a keeper crisis ahead of tonight’s crunch Championship clash at Ayr United. First-choice goalie Kevin Cuthbert is sidelined after having had a hernia operation while on-loan Aberdeen stopper Aaron Lennox is recovering from serious hand and facial injuries. Conor Brennan who was between the sticks on Saturday at Queen of the South almost had to come off at Palmerston with a foot injury and he is on crutches. Hughes now faces a race against time to find a keeper before the game against second-bottom Ayr who are just four points behind Raith. The manager said: “Conor has picked up an injury and is struggling. He’s the only goalie. “At this moment in time we’ve not got a goalkeeper. “We never had one on the bench at the weekend and that’s it, all the goalies are injured. “Over the weekend, we’ve been trying very hard to get a goalkeeper in. “But we cannot do a cross-border transfer, we’ve used up all our four loans and we’ve not got much money. “So, we’re right up against it. But hopefully something will come up. “We can do an emergency loan but it has to be an under-21 player because we’ve got four loans. “There are wheels in motion to hopefully get someone in place for Tuesday. “And whoever it is will just have to come in and get on with it. “We can’t feel sorry for ourselves. We need to stand up and be counted and if they keep doing what they’re doing it will turn. “In the first-half against Hibs we were very good and in the second-half against Queen of the South we probably just about edged it. “If we can put it together for 90 minutes then we’ll be delighted.” Raith have now gone 16 games without a win, a barren run that stretches all the way back to October. Hughes admits the players’ confidence has been affected by the lack of a victory but he is looking for them to be brave and to express themselves on the ball. He added: “We’re lucky enough we’ve got this game and we need to know the importance of it. “I feel for the boys, for where we are at this moment in time. “But they’re suffering in terms of confidence. It’s last October since we had a win and that’s affecting them. “I think they’re trying hard enough but that’s maybe one of the problems, they’re possibly trying too hard. “No matter the position we’re in, some of them still have to find that form to go and express themselves. “That’s very difficult because of the run we’re on but you have to find a way to go out there and enjoy it. “There are worse things in life than playing football and getting beat, trust me. “They just need a wee bit of luck, a wee break, and it will turn – and the quicker the better.”
Dundee United have received a big boost ahead of tonight’s crunch clash at Easter Road with two key players passed fit to face Hibs. On-loan Norwich playmaker Tony Andreu has recovered from a rib injury while Lewis Toshney will play through the pain barrier of a broken toe. United boss Ray McKinnon said: “Tony is fine and ready to go. Tosher is all right too. “Frank Van Der Struijk is the only one at this moment who isn't fit so overall we're in good shape. “It's great to have Tony available. He's got that wee bit of extra quality. “He's a good footballer and that's what you need in your team, as many good players as possible. “We're delighted he's back.”
Dundee boss Neil McCann admits the anger he felt after his side lost against Kilmarnock on Tuesday night will continue to burn within him until his players put things right and return to winning ways. The manager was absolutely raging at Rugby Park after his side threw away a 2-1 lead against a home side who had been reduced to 10 men. The 3-2 defeat was an absolute hammer blow but McCann has challenged his players to make amends – hopefully as quickly as tomorrow in a crunch game against Partick Thistle at Firhill. The manager said: “I have said what needed to be said to them. “I said a lot after the game on Tuesday night and I said a lot to them this morning. “Then it was back to looking forward to Partick Thistle. “It is clichéd but it is better that the games are coming thick and fast and you have to move your concentration to the next one. “But they were reminded of the reasons we didn’t win that game, why we lost it, before training today so hopefully they got the message. “We had a good session but it doesn’t matter what happens on the training ground, it is what happens on the pitch. “So we will know at 10 to five on Saturday night if they wanted to put things right.” McCann admitted that the anger he felt on Tuesday night had not abated, saying: “It is still burning yet. “It will continue burning until we put it to rest with a good performance and three points. “Overall, I thought our game plan was good and the players carried it out until Killie had a man sent off and that’s what I am angry about. “We lost our composure, we lost our discipline to play in a way that had got us to that position.” McCann admitted that as a coach and a manager, there is only so much he can do and ultimately the desire to succeed has to come from within his players. He said: “I think anybody who goes to the games and watches me can hear that I still coach. “I find it difficult not to. That’s the level we are at just now. We still have a really young group who are clearly not yet the finished article. “I would love to just sit in the dug-out and let them get on with it. “But it has to come from within as well – there is only so much a coach can do from the side. “It has to be done on the pitch and unfortunately it didn’t happen enough (against Killie). “We need to learn lessons about how we lost the game. I know exactly where we lost it and I have told the players. “It is constant lessons. Every day is a school day. “They have to understand going into the game on Saturday that if I come up with a game plan then I want them to stick to it. “If they do that and we fall flat, then that is down to the management.” The last time Dundee played Thistle at Firhill back in October, the Dark Blues lost the game despite dominating proceedings. McCann is hoping that will act as a further spur as his players look to right the wrongs of Tuesday night. The manager added: “I thought we were superb down at Thistle. “It was one of our best performances yet we came away losing that game. “So if you needed any fresh encouragement, about how to game manage, then you only have to look at Tuesday night and then cast your eye back to Firhill when we were so dominant against the team we are playing on Saturday. “But we threw it away and it was there for everyone to see where we went wrong so we must do better.”
Dundee boss Neil McCann has not ruled Sofien Moussa out of tomorrow’s Betfred Cup derby at Dens – despite the fact the big striker is currently on crutches. The 29-year-old Tunisian had to come off with a knee injury after 51 minutes of Saturday’s Premiership defeat at home to Ross County. Moussa looked to be in considerable pain as he was helped from the pitch and was back in at the club today to receive treatment. However, McCann is still hopeful that the front man, who has scored five goals in as many games since joining Dundee, can play his part against United. The manager said last night: “We are probably being a little over-protective with him. “We are still hopeful for Wednesday but we are just taking all precautions in terms of keeping weight off it. “We will know better on Tuesday and he still has 48 hours before the game so hopefully he will be all right. “He just jarred his knee a wee bit. He felt some discomfort and he didn’t want to continue on it. “I think he maybe got a bit of a fright so we are hoping it is not as bad as first feared. “He had a rest day on Sunday and there was no point in training him today. The physio has given him the crutches just as a precautionary measure and we will see how he is on Tuesday.” If Moussa does not make it, then Marcus Haber will come into the manager’s thoughts. The big Canadian was Dundee’s top scorer last season but has barely featured this campaign and was absent again from the squad for Ross County. However, McCann insists the 28-year-old still has a future at Dens. He added: "Marcus Haber is still fit and he was not in the plans at the weekend because I pick the side that I think is good enough to get us results. "Marcus found himself out of that. "If Moussa does not make it on Wednesday, then Marcus will come into the equation as we would be a striker down. "Marcus has a contract at Dens Park so he has a future at the club and until that changes he will be here.” Young defender Kerr Waddell also had to come off at half-time against the Staggies but McCann is confident he will be fit to face United. He said: “Kerr is fine. He had a bit of tightness in the calf but there doesn’t seem to be any underlying problem so he should be OK.”
Dundee United slumped to their second successive Championship defeat after being comprehensively beaten by Inverness at Tannadice. Caley who started the day second bottom of the league table, opened the scoring through Iain Vigurs and then added a second before half-time thanks to Connor Bell. Caley were by far the better side and fully deserved their victory while there were few in a tangerine shirt deserving of pass marks. Dundee United boss Ray McKinnon made two changes from the side that lost 2-0 at Livingston last week with Sam Stanton and Lewis Toshney coming in for Billy King and the injured Jordie Briels. There was a welcome return to the bench for Tam Scobbie and Scott Fraser. Former United defender Coll Donaldson was in the Inverness starting line-up along with ex-Dundee striker John Baird. The Highland outfit had a gilt-edged opportunity in just the fifth minute when Liam Polworth swung a free-kick in from the right with Carl Tremarco finding space and time in the home box but he directed his header straight at Tangerines keeper Harry Lewis. The United defence was posted missing in action again shortly after when Polworth flighted a corner in from the right with Baird having a free header which he sent over the bar. McKinnon’s men had their first chance of the match in the 17th minute. James Keatings was brought crashing down in a challenge by Brad McKay who earned himself a booking from ref Willie Collum. Keatings picked himself up and hit a superb 20-yard free-kick which Inverness keeper Mark Ridgers acrobatically palmed away for a corner. However, it was Caley who took the lead in the 28th minute. Polworth again sent a corner in from the right with Willo Flood attempting to head clear. Unfortunately, he only found Vigurs who hit a rising shot from just inside the box past Lewis with what looked like the help of a deflection off a home defender. The Tangerines almost replied instantly when Scott McDonald hit a snap shot inside the Inverness penalty area but Ridgers produced a superb save to deny the striker. Things then went from bad to worse for the Tangerines in the 37th minute when Caley doubled their advantage. Polworth sent Jake Mulraney scampering down the right with a great pass and he hit the byeline before cutting the ball across goal to Bell at the back post for a simple tap-in. Caley had another great chance to extend their lead even further in the 56th minute when Tremarco again found space in the Tangerines’ box but Lewis made a vital block to keep out his shot. On the hour mark, McKinnon withdrew Paul McMullan for Stewart Murdoch with defender Mark Durnan being pressed into service as a centre-forward. However, Caley continued to look comfortable in defence and dangerous on the break and successfully saw out the game to take all three points with the final whistle being greeted with a deafening barrage of boos from the home support.
Kevin McHattie admits it was a frightening moment when he injured his knee during Raith Rovers’ friendly with Forfar on Tuesday night. The full-back had only recently joined the team he supported as a boy, determined to get his career back on track after leaving Premiership side Kilmarnock. McHattie, who had knee problems in the past when he was at Hearts, left Station Park on crutches but thankfully the injury proved to be not as serious as first thought and the 22-year-old hopes to be back training next week. He said: “My leg is all right. It was just the tendon at the top of the knee where it meets the thigh. “It is basically a dead leg and I was on crutches but I am off them today. “I have done my left leg before but this time I wasn’t too worried as it was the outside of my right knee. “If it was going to be a ligament problem, it would have opened up on the other side. “It was still a bit frightening and playing on astro as well didn’t really help. “So I am relieved it wasn’t too serious and hopefully I will get back playing on Tuesday.” This is the third time McHattie has worked with Raith boss Gary Locke with the pair having been at Hearts and Killie together. And the player admitted it was good to be working with a manager again who had shown such belief in him over a number of years. He said: “I went on holiday on the Wednesday and the gaffer phoned me on the Monday saying he would like to get me in at Raith. “I had another year on my deal with Kilmarnock but the manager there (Lee Clark) had told me I wouldn’t be playing so I could go and find another club. It was good of him to be up front with me. “I still had a few things to sort out with Kilmarnock which took longer than I’d hoped but I was just glad to get started with Rovers. “It was a relief as the two weeks leading up to signing for Raith, I was on the phone to my agent all the time and trying to get things sorted with Kilmarnock. “So I am glad it has got done and I am delighted to be here. “The gaffer gives me belief and confidence. “He obviously trusts me as well which is what a player needs. “I am happy to come here and do a job for him.” McHattie added: “I am from Pitteuchar so I am a local boy. All my family support Rovers so they are proud that I have signed. “I wasn’t into football when I was really young but when I was eight, my grandad started taking me to games. “I went to just about every home game watching players like a young Stevie Crawford and Nacho Novo. “Now though all I am concentrating on is helping Raith have a season more successful than the last one.”
Dundee United have been dealt a big blow with the news that Scott Fraser has broken his right foot and is almost certainly going to miss the rest of the season. The 21-year-old midfielder suffered the injury in the 30th minute of Wednesday night’s disappointing 3-2 defeat at St Mirren when he came off second best in a challenge with former Dundee skipper Gary Irvine. Fraser crumpled to the turf and immediately removed his boot before being carried off. Manager Ray McKinnon’s immediate concerns were that the player had fractured his foot and those fears have now been confirmed meaning it is highly unlikely Fraser will feature for the Tangerines again this season. In a further setback, club captain Sean Dillon damaged ankle ligaments against the Buddies. He left the Paisley 2021 Stadium on crutches and while there is a chance he will return to action before the season’s end, he will definitely be unable play in his own testimonial next Tuesday night at Tannadice.
Opportunity knocks for youngsters with Dundee United boss Ray McKinnon determined not to take any chances in Irn-Bru Cup
Dundee United boss Ray McKinnon will give the club’s youngsters the opportunity to shine against Northern Irish side Linfield at Tannadice tomorrow in the Irn-Bru Cup. The manager selected a mixture of senior pros and kids in the last round of the competition against Alloa. However, with a whole host of first-team regulars either out or doubtful through injury or illness, he admits the average age of the team to face David Healy’s side will be even lower this time. Paul Quinn will be absent following his heart scare caused by an infected tooth, Lewis Toshney is still recovering from ankle ligament damage, Tam Scobbie has had a setback after overcoming his groin injury while Scott Fraser is once again suffering pain in his foot. And with a crunch Championship fixture at Livingston coming up next week, McKinnon insisted he simply cannot take any chances. He said: “Those four will definitely miss Saturday’s game. “I was hoping this would be Tam’s comeback match but he has hurt his calf. “Quinny has come back in today but he hasn’t trained and we still don’t know exactly how he is but he is looking terrible. We are waiting for his cardiologist to get in touch so we can’t take any chances with him. “Tosher’s ankle is looking a lot better. The bruising has gone but he is not ready and Scott Fraser is still struggling with the foot problem that he has had for six months. “We need to get to the bottom of that. It seems that when they put the screw into the bone it didn’t go all the way in and it is now hitting another bone.” McKinnon added: “He is in constant pain so we will have to make a decision. “It has been a terrible time for him as you can imagine every time that bone hits the screw he is in agony. “I feel for him as he is fit but the pain has become unbearable so they might have to take it out – I just want to have him back fit. “So with these lads missing, the team will maybe be even younger than the last time when we played Alloa. “We can’t take any chances so it will be a mixture of youngsters and people needing games. “Stewart Murdoch lost five kilos last week because of the sickness bug that went through the team but he might play against Linfield as will Sam Stanton and Patrick N’Koyi. “Overall it will be a fairly young team especially at the back but it gives them all a chance to impress.” Linfield may be part-time but they have already played Celtic this season in a Champions League qualifier and McKinnon admitted they will provide a stern test for his youthful side. He said: “Linfield have had a good season. “I know they have a big game next Saturday against Coleraine but they are going to be a decent, outfit. “Ideally we want a really good performance against them on Saturday and it will be good to give some of the kids a taste of playing against an experienced side. “It is important to see them at that level to gauge where they are.”
Dundee have announced they will be appealing against the two-match ban handed to manager Neil McCann by the SFA. The Dens boss had travelled through to Hampden yesterday to hear his fate after being issued with a notice of complaint following a bust-up with St Johnstone’s Zander Clark at the end of the Tayside derby at Dens Park on March 10. McCann was found guilty of falling foul of Disciplinary Rule 203 – “No member of team staff shall commit misconduct at a match”. The 43-year-old was given a two-game suspension, effective immediately, meaning he would be in the stands for Sunday’s crunch game with Hearts at Dens and the following fixture with Celtic at Parkhead next Wednesday. Now though the club has appealed the punishment meaning McCann will be in the dug-out for the Jambos game. Clark was also given a two-match ban which St Johnstone have accepted.