Dundee United hitman Lawrence Shankland says he sees “the bigger picture” after a positive but low scoring season by his standards last time out.
Shankland, who got the new campaign off to a flier for himself and United, scoring in their 1-0 Premier Sports Cup win over Kelty Hearts on Friday night, believes he is an improved player from last term.
Working under former boss Micky Mellon, goal-getter Shanks was tasked with more off the ball work, having been used to playing between the posts for most of his career.
The 25-year-old reckons that has benefited him going into the 2021/22 campaign as he aims to better last term’s tally of nine goals.
Shanks already knew it wasn’t all about scoring goals
“I don’t think I had a bad season last year, I have said that a lot,” he said.
“I think there were a lot of positive things for me in terms of my development.
“I learned things I can use going forward, things which will, hopefully, make me a better player.
“You just need to take the best out of every season and move forward.
“I have analysed last season, seen what I need to improve on and what I can take from it.
“Do I have to learn it’s not all about scoring goals? I knew that already, it was other people who didn’t!
“Of course, I love scoring goals but if my performances are there and the team are winning then I don’t care who is getting them.”
Scotland aim for United marksman
Working with new head coach Thomas Courts, Shankland admits one of his top targets is finding a route back into the Scotland squad.
The four-times capped frontman was left out of Steve Clarke’s pool for Euro 2020 and hopes a strong season in front of goal can see him force his way back into the fold.
Shanks continued: “Getting back in the Scotland squad has to be my objective in the long run but I just need to focus on my club football.
“If I can take momentum from the League Cup into the Premiership season then I’ll be happy and Scotland gives me something to work towards.
🟠⚫ @dundeeunitedfc's Lawrence Shankland reacts to his team's winning start to the season
🗣️ "It wasn't probably the most vintage of performances, but overall, we got the 3 points and that's what's important." pic.twitter.com/B4HvPtIvQu
— Premier Sports 📺 (@PremierSportsTV) July 9, 2021
“Will I get more chances this season? There will be bits similar to last season but it’s a whole new season and it will be a different league.
“It’s not about just standing at the top end of the pitch and getting into scoring positions, you have to have more about your game.
“But the way we are setting up is a little bit different in term of playing an out-and-out striker, getting into the box.
“Against Kelty I was closer to getting opportunities so it was a positive start.”
Kelty impressed Shankland
Expanding on his scoring start at New Central Park, tapping home Kieran Freeman’s cut back on 77 minutes to win all three points for the Tangerines, Shankland was simply delighted for the victory against a tough Kelty side.
He added: “It’s good to get off and running early doors, get firing.
“Everyone is looking to start the season positively and I’m no different, you want to be scoring as quickly as possible.
“As a team we want to get a positive mentality and get winning. There is nothing better than going on a winning run, no matter what games they are, so that’s the aim.
“We were happy with the result but the performance could have been better.
“It was the first competitive game, it’s a tough place to go because Kelty are a good side and they have experienced players.
“They showed at times how good they are, they caused us problems and I’m sure they will do well in the league this season.
“As a striker you love to score but as long as I am doing my bit for the team then I can see the bigger picture.”
Contract talks rumble on
As for his future at Tannadice, Shankland insists he remains happy at the club after opening contract extension talks.
The forward provided an update on how discussions are progressing.
He commented: “Things will take care of themselves and all that stuff will get dealt with in the long run.
“I signed a three-year contract with Dundee United and I have a year of it left.
“I am more than happy here and am just glad we got off to a win on Friday night and want to kick on from here.”