Kevin McDonald has returned to Dundee United training ahead of their crucial Premiership showdown against Motherwell.
The Scotland internationalist was a notable absentee for Sunday’s 3-2 defeat against Hearts, with his experience and composure sorely missed as the Jambos took control of the contest.
Given United boss Tam Courts was already without Peter Pawlett, Ian Harkes and Calum Butcher, his midfield options were visibly limited.
Teenager Chris Mochrie made his first start since Boxing Day and was later replaced by fellow gifted youngster Archie Meekison.
However, McDonald — who has made eight appearances since joining the Tangerines in February — looks set to ease Courts’ selection headache after playing through the pain barrier in Tuesday’s session.
He is expected to build up his fitness in subsequent days with a view to featuring against the Steelmen.
And Courts believes McDonald’s return is testament to the guts and gumption of the player — and the importance of the fixture.
“Kevin was back on the training pitch on Tuesday,” said Courts.
“He still wasn’t moving great at that stage of the week, but he is just so determined to be involved.
“He did carry out the full session and was probably holding a little bit back.
“Because we are a little light on numbers — missing Pete Pawlett, Ian Harkes, Max Biamou — we’ve got to find the right options and team selection.”
‘The players recognise the importance of this week’
Courts added: “It’s so pleasing for me to see a player of Kev’s calibre, pedigree and experience ask to be a part of things, despite not being 100 per cent [fit] at this stage of the week.
“He is willing to push himself through the pain barrier, just to see where he is.
“Those are the signs you want from the squad during the week; it lets you know that the players recognise the importance of this week.”
Currently occupying fourth spot in the Premiership, Dundee United lead Motherwell by one point in the race for European football.