Dundee United skipper Mark Reynolds insists Lawrence Shankland won’t be playing with a chip on his shoulder today as they take on former club Aberdeen at Tannadice.
Tangerines star man Shankland played with Reynolds at Pittodrie before the 25-year-old exited after four years in 2017 without making much of a first-team impact.
He went on enjoy promotions with Ayr United and the Terrors, scoring 91 goals in 107 games over three lower league seasons.
Grabbing goals is just what Shanks does and Reynolds insists it will be no different this afternoon, believing the Scotland forward doesn’t have a point to prove.
“It’s not as if Aberdeen decided Shanks wasn’t a good enough player or this or that, it was just circumstances at the time,” the 33-year-old said.
“He had good players in front of him – that front three of Jonny Hayes, Niall McGinn and Adam Rooney – who were causing chaos and scoring goals every week so he was struggling to get into a very good Aberdeen team at the time.
“He was also a young guy, wanting to go and play and prove himself, which he’s done.
“Lawrence wants to prove himself every week regardless of who he’s playing against. He wants to score a goal every game and he goes into them full of belief he can get at least one.
“I don’t think Lawrence will be going into it with a vendetta or trying to score any more than he does. He’s a striker and a guy who thrives off goals – that’s why we love having him in our team.
“He’ll go out there with the same attitude and desire as he’s shown in every game to do the best he can for Dundee United.”
Centre-back Reynolds thinks no one party was to blame for Shankland’s Dons departure, not least manager Derek McInnes.
He continued: “When you look back at it, the media made it look like it was clear cut and that Aberdeen didn’t want him or he wanted to go but it’s never that black and white.
“He wanted to be out there scoring goals and playing at the top level in games that meant something, no disrespect to the reserve leagues.
“He wanted to go and play for points and leagues and he’s done that elsewhere.
“You look at guys at top teams just now and they all have different career paths. For Lawrence, he wants to be the one in charge of his own career and own destiny.
“In football, the only way you can do that is by playing games and if that means dropping down a level or two to play and improve to work yourself back up then you need to do that.
“For me, it was always the right idea and Derek McInnes wasn’t the type of manager to stand in somebody’s way.
“He was happy to let him go and flourish. He couldn’t do that at Aberdeen and he didn’t want to be the one saying ‘no, I need you here and it might take another three or four years’.
“It was a situation where everybody was happy with the end result.
“Obviously, Aberdeen will be looking at it now and the fans will be thinking they should’ve kept a hold of him because he’s turned into an international class striker but that’s football.”
Shankland could be leading the line alongside fellow-Scotland international Marc McNulty today as the Reading loanee works his way back to full fitness.
Tannadice captain Reynolds has been impressed with the firepower United boss Micky Mellon has assembled up front.
He added: “There’s no reason why the two of them can’t play together. We have seen the manager is comfortable mixing up formations and personnel.
“The nature of the league is you need options and competition. We are starting to get a squad where we have competition all over the pitch.
“None more so than strikers – some teams are so heavily reliant on one guy scoring all the goals and when he hits a bad run of form or injury you’re struggling.
“We are delighted to have Marc in and Lawrence has rose to every challenge put in front of him so far.”
He continued: “Marc has looked great. He’s looked sharp. He was disappointed not to be involved in the cup games but the club wanted to make sure longer term we got him fit and ready to make an impact on the campaign.
“He has looked after himself and looks fit but it’s OK doing it in training, it’s games you need to get your sharpness.
“He is a top quality player and you can see in training his touch, movement and finishing is on the level we need to be at. Hopefully he can bang in a good few goals for us.”