Dundee boss James McPake insists it would be really foolish to focus fully on United’s goal machine Lawrence Shankland in Friday night’s derby at Tannadice.
The former Ayr striker has hit the back of the net seven times in just three league games this season including another two as the table-topping Tangerines swept Dunfermline aside at East End Park on Saturday.
McPake, though, insists there are threats throughout Robbie Neilson’s team who provide the ammo to help Shankland shine.
Stopping that at source is a priority but the Dens boss was also keen to stress that while all the talk may be about the danger United pose, he insists his own strike force is a potent force in their own right.
When asked how do you stop Shankland, McPake said: “We need to stop Dundee United. That’s what we need to do.
“They are a good side with decent players in their team so if we go down there and think it is all about stopping him, we would be really foolish and our game plan would be completely wrong.
“We need to stop the chances getting to him, first and foremost and then create our own opportunities.
“Look, we will worry about Dundee, how we can affect the game and how we can affect them as a team, not about individuals.
“When we played Aberdeen, we didn’t try to stop Sam Cosgrove.”
McPake added: “We will go down there and have our own game plan. The work has started on that.
“We have strikers that will be worrying them and every other team in the league every bit as much as their strikers – I fully believe that with Kane Hemmings, Andrew Nelson and Danny Johnson.
“I will back my front three to worry other teams.
“We have had a good start to the season and they have had a good start to the season but a derby is a derby and let’s just see what comes on Friday night.”
McPake should have a full squad to choose from for the derby with Jamie Ness recovering from the stomach bug that ruled him out of Saturday’s draw with Inverness at Dens.
His fellow midfielder, 16-year-old Finlay Robertson, came off during that match with cramp in his hamstring.
The manager was determined not to take any risks with the teenager who has quickly become an important player for the Dark Blues this season.
On reflection, the manager admitted the Betfred Cup tie with the Dons the previous week that went to extra time had probably taken its toll on Robertson.
McPake said: “Finlay came off against Aberdeen having played nearly 110 minutes.
“He was probably mentally drained being only 16.
“He just had a bit of cramp on Saturday but it was more of a protective measure than anything bringing him off.
“When I saw him stretching his hamstring, even although he was telling me he was OK, I know the boy and he has had these problems in the past.
“So he was probably the one the extra time took it out of.
“When he went off (against Inverness) you saw we missed his influence on the game.
“But he is fine and trained on Monday. I wanted to give him an extra day off but the medical department told me he was keen to train. He did and was brilliant.”