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Tony Andreu’s genius involves lots of hard work, says Dundee United skipper Dillon

Tony Andreu’s genius involves lots of hard work, says Dundee United skipper Dillon

It’s getting to that time when thoughts turn to player-of-the-year awards and when the voting takes place in the Championship, there is little doubt Tony Andreu’s name will feature heavily in the ballot.

Dundee United boss Ray McKinnon’s capture of the Frenchman on a season-long loan from Norwich City has to rank as one of the best pieces of business done anywhere in Scotland over the past 12 months.

The 28-year-old’s stunning finish for what turned out to be the winner in Saturday night’s Irn-Bru Cup semi-final at Queen of the South was his 14th goal in 23 appearances.

That stat alone makes him one of the main contenders for the end-of-season prize but the build up to that strike was evidence of how much more he brings to McKinnon’s side.

It was Andreu’s clever and precise flick from a Sean Dillon pass out of defence that released Simon Murray on the right flank.

And rather than stand back and admire his work, he raced forward to make himself available on the edge of the penalty box and, when the ball was cut back to him, his first-time shot that sent the ball into the back of the net was top drawer.

Eye-catching as that was, it was just one aspect of an overall excellent performance that deservedly earned him the Man-of-the-Match award.

It wasn’t his first and it’s not just the match sponsors who decide these prizes who appreciate what the former Hamilton Accies man is capable for.

Repeatedly this season his manager has highlighted his contribution — and his team-mates are no different.

Just as with McKinnon, their praise features mention of his work that’s often lacking in creative players.

Because, what often goes unnoticed about Andreu is his willingness to graft hard for the team and not just come to life when he has the ball. Club captain Sean Dillon is one who appreciates that.

“Tony is a clever player and he wants to take responsibility,” is how Dillon puts it.

“He’s not afraid to work and win the ball back for us. If he’s not at it 100%, which happens to all of us, it does have an effect on how we play.

“When he is winning the ball back it makes a big difference to the team and it’s not something you expect from his type of player.

“You shouldn’t categorise players but you do tend to look at people like him and think he’s a No 10 type, so he won’t track back.

“But he does and, when we are at our best, it plays a big part in it.”

As for that weekend effort, on top of natural ability, Dillon knows hard work had a lot to do with it as well

“It was a good goal. I started the move but he did well for me. When he recognised where my pass was going, he got a good toe to it to get it out to Simon Murray and Simon did very well from there.

“Scotty Fraser was involved as well and when Simon cut the ball to Tony it was a great finish.

“He has that in his locker. I’m not going to go down the cliche route of ‘we see him doing it every day in training’ but what we do see is him practising his finishing a lot.

“If we go from doing one thing in training to another and the gaffer says to get a drink, you’ve got a couple of minutes, Tony will be whipping balls into the net in that time.

“He’s not the only one, there are a number of lads do it.

“It’s down to practice and it paid off on Saturday.”

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