Dundee United midfielder Blair Spittal will be shooting at two goals from now and the end of the season – promotion and a contract.
The 21-year-old missed half of February and all of March with a foot injury but returned at the start of this month and has featured in the club’s three Championship matches since.
He is ready for the run-in and the hope is that he can help the Tangerines go back up to the Premiership via the play-offs and also persuade manager Ray McKinnon that he is worth keeping beyond the end of his current deal in the summer.
Spittal and his Tannadice teammates head to Somerset Park to face relegation-threatened Ayr United at Somerset Park this evening in the 5.15 pm kick-off, looking to build on Tuesday’s morale-boosting home victory over Dunfermline.
He said: “I have enjoyed being back because walking over to the gym yourself when the lads are training every day is frustrating.
“My contract is up in the summer as well so I need to be playing games to prove I am worthy of a place here in the future.
“That’s what I want to do but I need to prove it to the manager.
“I would love to stay because the facilities we have here are second to none and I enjoy playing for United.
“So my aim between now and the end of the season is first of all to help the team get promoted and secondly to win a new deal.
“It doesn’t matter if we go up through the play-offs – as long as we do it.
“We haven’t been consistent enough since we went top of the league at Christmas, we know that.
“However, we are picking up results again and it’s a good time of the season to have momentum building once more.
“Against Dunfermline in midweek we created a lot of chances.
“We have been creating opportunities so it’s just a matter of putting them away.
“We also got a clean sheet and hopefully that can help kick us on again.
“It is key going into games knowing that if we maybe don’t play well we can still keep clean sheets.”
There are many reasons why United have not made second spot their own or even put in a credible challenge to Hibs at the top.
The main one, though, is their terrible away form.
They will be tested again on the road this evening by Ayr players who are fighting to stay in the division, having slipped to bottom in midweek thanks to in-form St Mirren’s hammering of Morton.
It is hard to explain the stark difference between home form that has seen United lose just once in all competitions at Tannadice (to the Hibees) and an away record that has seen then defeated now fewer than eight times on the road in the league.
However, Spittal said: “When we play at Tannadice, teams have been sitting in to stifle us and the onus has been on us to break them down.
“But away from home they come out and have a go.
“So it’s about finding a balance in those matches between attacking but still defending properly at the other end.
“This league is different to the Premiership because all the teams have a go at you but this season we have had to be a lot more patient in matches.
“For me, that has been the biggest difference, knowing how to break teams down but at the same time not conceding goals.
“It’s a really tough league.
“The last time we went to Ayr we were shocking, really, but we managed to grind out a win.
“Ayr battered us the full game and we were lucky.
“So we know what to expect down there this time around.”
United are in a decent position going into the final four fixtures of the campaign, just a point behind Falkirk and having overtaken Morton to occupy third spot.
Each point will be a prisoner now and Spittal is optimistic about the Tangerines’ chances of finishing as runners-up.
“Everyone in our dressing-room knows what’s at stake,” he said.
“Now is the time we have to grab what’s in front of us.
“We have an opportunity to get this club back into the Premiership so we have to do everything we can to achieve that.
“It is also a huge game for Ayr as they are desperate for the points because they are fighting relegation.
“We just have to make sure we want it more than they do.”