Micky Mellon hopes to give Dundee United fans their first glimpse of ‘explosive’ new striker Marc McNulty as they welcome Aberdeen to Tannadice tomorrow.
Scotland hitman McNulty joined Mellon’s Tangerines from Reading earlier this month on a loan deal until the end of the season and has been working his way back to full fitness.
The Terrors’ boss says the former Hibs forward’s progress has been good and also provided an update on Benjamin Siegrist and Cameroonian new boy Jeando Fuchs – currently in coronavirus quarantine.
“We want to bring Marc in, get him as fit as we can so he can play games,” Mellon said.
“We have to get enough work into him to minimise the risk of injury.
“So it has been a balancing act on that.
“The cup games were probably too early because we would have run the risk of injury.
“He’s an explosive player but he’s not had the intensity in his legs to play games yet.
“He has pushed on in the last few days, so the hope is when we come in today we’ll see where he is and, hopefully, he can be involved in some way against Aberdeen.
“Benjy is back training again, he’s stepped it up and we’ll see what the reaction is over the next 24 hours.
“Jeando is still in quarantine, he’s been tested and is negative so we are hoping for some clarity on him in the next 24 hours.
“He’s been in the house trying to keep his fitness levels up but we just need to hear when he’s allowed to join up with us.”
The meeting with Derek McInnes’ Dons is significant in terms of both sides competing for Premiership points but it also carries historical weight.
The New Firm rivalry dates back to the 1980s where United and Aberdeen challenged Celtic and Rangers for Scotland’s top honours.
That is not lost on Mellon and he is keen to motivate his players for the clash in the absence of supporters in the ground.
He added: “You’ve just got to (generate intensity) because anybody who doesn’t know this is a big game doesn’t know much about football.
“We’re sadly getting used to it now and it’s sad because football is all about fans – it really is.
“There’s no doubt that a full house at Tannadice would add to the occasion.
“That’s disappointing but we’re getting used to it now – having to find a way to generate that intensity without fans.
“It’s the same for everybody, though, and we’re just trying to do the best we can to generate that.
He continued: “I do genuinely take every game as it comes and I’ve enjoyed every one.
“Of course, though, I know this one is the next one and how big it is.
“I’m looking forward to going and contesting in it and taking my group, who are new to this level, up against an established team who always finish at the top end of the table.
“It’s going to be a brilliant opportunity for us to see where we’re up to as well and go contest a New Firm derby.
“Everything’s there for us to be excited about and look forward to.”
Although their form in both league and cup has been inconsistent of late, the 48-year-old says he can take the flak and is excited by what his inexperienced group can achieve.
“Every job is different in football. Mine is to take a group of Championship players and get them up to speed, playing at a higher level,” he commented.
“There isn’t a lot of Premiership experience in that group, which is exciting because nobody could tell me where the glass ceiling, in terms of what they could achieve, is going to be.
“We just have to go along with it and try to keep the standards as high as possible. That’s the job at Dundee United.
“As we go along, we’ll get our answers to the questions we had at the start of the season.
“We’ll have to answer them, either by trying to push the boys that we’ve got to get better performances out of them and keep raising the standards, or add from outside, if the opportunity comes to do that in a really tough market at the minute.
“That’s the job at Dundee United, it’s not comparable to anywhere else. It is what it is at the minute, I’m enjoying doing that, I’ll continue to do that and I’ll keep level about that.”
He continued: “It’s been difficult with the international break recently. It sort of broke the team up a little bit but we’re still learning all the time.
We’re just about to complete the first round of 11 games, so we’ve certainly learnt more by playing everybody.
“We see good improvements at times but the consistency we still have to work hard on.
“Every day we’re training hard in order to find that consistency and level that gets us results every week.
“We’ve gave away some poor goals at times with individual errors, and people will judge performances on that individual mistake.
“Sitting where we are in the league table, if anyone wants to use that as a gauge, if we’d got a point against Livingston we would have been sitting fifth.
“I appreciate we lost the late goal – and it was horrendous – but we’d have been fifth.
“And if that was the gauge, would people have taken that at the start of the season? I think they would have.
“But we are still driving, trying to find that level that gives us the performance to win games.”