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CALUM WOODGER: Dundee United can’t afford to take their eye off the ball as the season nears an end and why dynamic Dundee should go to Tynecastle and attack Hearts

Dundee United welcome Celtic to Tannadice tomorrow.
Dundee United welcome Celtic to Tannadice tomorrow.

Dundee United find themselves in no man’s land at this late stage of the season.

In a way, that is good as they should have few worries about being dragged into a
relegation dogfight at the bottom of the Premiership, with seventh spot representing stability in their first season back in the top flight since 2015/16.

In others, there’s a feeling of disappointment around the camp that their chances of
finishing in the top six look slim – and that leaves them susceptible to taking their eye off the ball and complacency creeping in.

That is something the Terrors cannot afford to do when champions Celtic come to Tannadice tomorrow.

With St Mirren four points ahead in sixth, with two games to go until the split and Aberdeen still to play, United have a job on their hands to pip the Buddies and St Johnstone, well positioned a point below them in eighth, to the post.

The Hoops have the carrot of prolonging Rangers’ wait for a first top-flight title in nine years dangling in front of them as they head for the City of Discovery – and you can bet they, under caretaker boss John Kennedy, will be motivated by that with an Old Firm clash at Celtic Park to come in a fortnight.

Aberdeen, too, will believe third place is still a realistic possibility for them headed into the post-split fixtures.

It won’t be easy, but the Tangerines have to maintain their focus as they head into what will likely be scrappy encounters against sides fighting for their lives in the bottom six.

Starting tomorrow afternoon against the Celts, United have to get back on the wagon after what was a particularly flat second-half display in last Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Kilmarnock.

The Terrors had started brightly at Rugby Park, too, carrying their good form from wins over Ross County and Livingston, and a decent performance at Ibrox, into the clash in Ayrshire.

However, old habits slipped in as Tommy Wright’s Killie salvaged a point against Micky Mellon’s men, who were unable to get a foot on the ball and make their chances count.

Dundee United boss Micky Mellon.

They can’t allow those kind of lapses in concentration to continue or take their foot off the gas as they head into the home stretch.

Some would say United have little to play for but I disagree.

There is not only pride at stake but increased prize money for finishing as high as possible, the chance to reward supporters who have stood by the club despite not being able to attend and, simply, winning matches so it becomes a habit.

This United squad, who have won games at crucial times this season to keep their heads above water, could do with a little confidence boost, for me.

Now’s as good a time as ever to string together a couple of positive results to keep their campaign ticking along nicely.

That is something Mellon has done well in his first term in the Tannadice hotseat and, albeit tomorrow will be a tough ask, United must try to keep the train chugging along.

Headed for Tynecastle this afternoon, Dundee must have a go and attack Championship leaders Hearts from kick off.

The way their season is perched, with no chance of winning the title and more important games against the teams around them coming up in the fight to make the play-offs, the Dark Blues have nothing to lose.

Sitting in for a point in Edinburgh would do them no favours – going for the jugular is the Dee’s best bet.

Dundee lost 6-2 the last time they went to Tynecastle.

While they are fresh at the beginning of what is a hectic March schedule, Dundee have to take the game to a Jambos team that, despite being way out in front in the second tier, blows hot and cold.

With their new dynamic frontline, it’s something they’ll hope to do effectively.

Jason Cummings has been a terrific addition to the side and the former Hibs hitman will be keen to get one over the Jam Tarts.

Whether it’s Danny Mullen or Osman Sow that partners him up top, both have been handy in recent games against Morton and Inverness.

Paul McMullan has been dangerous in dark blue, contributing with a few assists already.

Declan McDaid, who has returned to the fold after a botched loan move to Partick Thistle, has also looked lively.

Make no mistake, Dundee will be seeking retribution for the 6-2 earlier in the season and, with the talent at their disposal, there’s no reason why they can’t get it.

Why is it some ‘Scottish football fans’ fervently follow the English game as opposed to our own?

Answers on a postcard, please.

We all know, financially, the English Premier League is in a different universe to the SPFL but for authenticity, entertainment and box office value, our top flight wipes the floor with a sanitised EPL.

Watching the midweek highlights in Scotland, there was penalty controversy, Steven Gerrard sent off and wonder goals from Guy Melamed and Ross Callachan.

Down south, it was VAR and the sinfully boring Palace-Man U clash. I’ll stick with the Scots, thanks.

This article originally appeared on the Evening Telegraph website. For more information, read about our new combined website.