Nicky Clark’s season-ending injury has left a vacancy for Lawrence Shankland’s strike partner.
And Osman Sow intends to fill it.
A few weeks ago the idea of Sow getting a run of games in Robbie Neilson’s team as they close in on the Championship title was about as far-fetched as the idea of anybody catching the Tangerines at the top of the league.
But it doesn’t appear so ridiculous now. Far from it.
On Sow’s first start for United since the play-offs last season the former Hearts attacker looked surprisingly sharp for a man who hasn’t played much football and must be lacking in confidence.
And the early signs of his style of play complementing the star man’s were encouraging as well.
Sow was an admirer of Shankland’s from afar when he was on loan at Kilmarnock and now he’s an admirer from up close.
“He’s an intelligent player and I enjoyed playing with him,” said the Swede.
“It was our first time playing together and we did some good things.
“He’s a very good player and I think we could make a good partnership. He links the play well and is dangerous in the box.
“When I was at Kilmarnock I was watching what he was doing and he’s had an amazing season. There have been a lot of goals like today’s one.”
Sow was referring to Shankland’s 90th minute equaliser which cancelled out the 17th minute opener from Kalvin Orsi.
That Morton goal made it an afternoon of toil for Neilson’s men as a well-drilled visiting side were able to pack their box and expertly execute their ‘what we have we hold’ game plan.
It would have been an entirely different match – and a fairytale return to Tannadice for Sow – had the big centre-forward’s close-range finish after following up an Ian Harkes shot not been chalked off for offside.
That was just 25 seconds into the contest.
“It felt good to be back out there,” said Sow. “It would have been nice to score and to win but it was great to be playing at Tannadice again.
“It would have been perfect if my goal hadn’t been disallowed but the assistant referee had his flag up quickly.
“I felt stronger and sharper as the game went on and now I’m looking forward to contributing more for the team.”
Given what has happened for United, and Shankland in particular, over the last year it is easy to forget that Sow was the signing a lot of Arabs were most excited about in the previous January transfer window.
And he believes there is still time to live up to his billing.
“This is the best I’ve felt for a long time,” said Sow.
“I was carrying injuries all the time last season but I’m feeling a lot better now.
“We’ll take it one game at a time.
“I would say that Dundee United fans haven’t seen the best of me yet. Hopefully that will happen but I’m not looking too far ahead.
“There’s still plenty of time left in the season for me to show what I can do.
“I’m looking forward to Tuesday which will be a different type of game.”
That Neilson hasn’t written him off, as many other managers would have been tempted to do in his position, hasn’t been overlooked by Sow.
“The manager has shown faith in me,” he said. “I’m grateful and hopefully I can repay him.
“The gaffer will make sure we approach every game with the same work-rate and attitude as we get closer to the end of the season.”
Neilson is also a subscriber to the theory that the best is yet to come from Sow.
“I was delighted for Osman,” he said. “Although he hasn’t played a lot he showed the quality in his link-play.
“His awareness and touch for the goal that was chalked off was top level. I’m just disappointed it was offside.
“We’re pleased to have him back.
“Last season he had niggles with his ankle and knee. When he came back from Kilmarnock we had a chat and he was telling me it’s the first time he’s felt (injury) free and smooth. We need to make sure we maintain that and don’t push him too hard.”
In other years this would have been a two points dropped scenario for title contenders.
Not now and not for United.
Neilson added: “It’s always going to be difficult after losing a goal early. They lost 6-0 here last time so they sat in and tried to make it as hard as they could for us.
“We’re trying to beat 11 men who are within 20 yards of their goal.
“Our quality wasn’t as good as it has been – we were a wee bit slow in moving the ball.
“But we continued to try and do what we wanted to do – get it wide and get it in the box. The draw was the least we deserved and it’s another point on the board.
“It’s a step forward in the league, with Inverness getting beaten. We’re 18 points ahead. The league is about getting more points than anyone else. That’s it.
“It doesn’t matter how you do that.
“The fans showed the togetherness we’ve got here. They know that the players will work hard to the last minute. There were a lot of positives even though we didn’t get three points.”