John Rankin is intent on having fun this week as he bids to get over his Hampden heartbreak and save Dundee United’s top-flight status.
United suffered more misery on Saturday when they fell to a William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final defeat to Hibernian, whose stand-in goalkeeper Conrad Logan denied them before and during a penalty shoot-out.
The loss and manner of defeat were all the more difficult to take given United had slipped eight points adrift at the foot of the Ladbrokes Premiership following two consecutive defeats before the cup tie.
They could be 11 points behind by the time they host Hamilton on Sunday but Rankin was looking for ways to lighten the mood as United returned to training today.
“We have got characters in there and the characters are going to need to come through,” the midfielder said.
“We are going to have to go out there and run about like 16-year-olds, as if it doesn’t matter. We are just going to need to go and have fun. That’s the only way we can do it this week.
“We need to have fun for a couple of days, get the boys up for it, and as soon as it comes to Saturday, be prepared for Sunday.
“That’s the only way I can see us getting round this week because it’s been a severe disappointment on Saturday.”
The 32-year-old, who had a long-range strike brilliantly saved by Logan, added: “It was a hard one to take but we need to get over it.
“We didn’t get ourselves into the Scottish Cup final but we have five cup finals between now and the end of the season. We need to be ready for it.
“Sunday is a huge game and we need to get ourselves up for it now.
“We have had a couple of days off to try and get ourselves away and get our heads straight, and get the legs back, and this is a whole new week.”
United have only won six league games all season and might still go down if they win their last five.
But Rankin said: “It’s a difficult task as it is, we are eight points behind and teams might probably think it’s gone.
“But it’s not. We need to believe it’s not gone. There are five games, 15 points at stake and we have a chance to get out of it.
“Until it’s mathematically impossible, the boys will keep digging in.”
Manager Mixu Paatelainen echoed his player’s thoughts.
Paatelainen said: “When you are bottom of the league, that’s the way things go, there is negativity around.
“That’s why, inside the camp, you need to be really strong. Everyone has to unite, be really strong and we need to keep believing and work hard.
“It’s very difficult, no question, but I believe.”
Paul Paton trained after playing through a knee problem at Hampden but Coll Donaldson (hamstring) is a doubt for Sunday’s game.