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Shankland is more than just a goal machine insists Dundee United teammate Smith

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He has a well-earned reputation as a goal machine but the Dundee United player who knows Lawrence Shankland best insists he has even more to offer his new team.

And full-back Liam Smith believes the Betfred Cup wins over Stenhousemuir and Cowdenbeath last week have shown that.

Playing up front with kid Louis Appere against Stenny, at times, Shankland dropped deep to help the Tangerines’ midfield.

Liam Smith.

At Tannadice on Friday, he showed his eye for a pass when he set up Adrian Sporle for the opening goal.

Though, none of that came as a surprise to Smith, a team-mate of Shankland’s at Ayr last season.

“That’s a couple Shanks has got already and I know better than most if you put the ball in the right position for him, nine times out of 10 he’s going to put the ball in the net,” said Smith.

“When he gets the ball in the box you expect him to score. He is a great acquisition for the club and, along with the other strikers, he can drive us on in the league.

“But he’s a team player, 100%. People think because he’s a big boy he’s just up there to hit but he’s good on the deck and he can link the play very well.

“He will do the dirty side of the game as well and gets back in and helps out with the defensive work when that’s needed. He’s a very well-rounded player and that was why a lot of teams were after him.”

Lawrence Shankland celebrates with Nicky Clark after finding the net against Dumbarton, pre-season.

Those two goals in three Betfred outings show Shankland is settling well at Tannadice and Smith believes these games also strongly suggest, as an overall unit, United are on course to be ready for when the league action kicks off against Inverness Caley Thistle on Saturday week.

“It’s not long to get everything ready for the league and we need to hit the ground running.

“The sooner we can get the partnerships and everything sorted the better and I think it’s heading in the right direction.”

As they try to do that, there’s been a determination not to lose sight of the desire to progress as far as possible in the Betfred.

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“I think three points is always the important thing when it’s a competitive game but when pre-season is so short it’s also good the boys get plenty game time as well.

“We need the minutes in the legs so games like Friday against Cowdenbeath tick all the boxes – goals, chances and those minutes. I think we can be pleased with how things have gone, so far.

“The games, so far, have been good because it’s been different challenges. Against Cowdenbeath and Stenhousemuir we had to be patient and move the ball around, whereas against Hearts we had to sit in and show our defensive qualities.”

United round off their involvement in the group stages tonight when East Fife visit.

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