Dundee United captain Ross Docherty reckons the Tangerines’ strength in depth will be enough to put the “frighteners up” Championship rivals.
Following a first half of the season peppered with niggling injuries and suspensions to key men – Docherty included – Jim Goodwin now has a fully fit group to choose from, aside from Declan Gallagher and Sadat Anaku.
That was underlined last weekend as Tony Watt and Kai Fotheringham, with 21 goals between them this season, climbed from the bench to inspire a 2-1 victory against Ayr United.
Meanwhile, talents like Mathew Cudjoe and Archie Meekison didn’t even make it onto the pitch.
A solid transfer window saw the Terrors add David Wotherspoon and Alex Greive to their ranks, while Goodwin swooped for St Johnstone’s Northern Ireland international centre-back Sam McClelland on loan this week.
Docherty told Courier Sport: “You can see the strength in our squad now.
“The manager is bringing in players who are of a calibre that they are disappointed not to play every game. That’s the way it should be.
“Even the young boys are disappointed when they don’t play.
“And all that quality in the group will be needed towards the end of the season. Hopefully, everyone keeps it up and boys keep the head if they don’t play from the start.
“It is a team game and, if an opponent is keeping us out and they see, for example, Tony Watt coming off the bench in the Championship, then they maybe have a few frighteners up them.”
Docherty: “We have a team ethic”
Indeed, Watt’s 30 minutes in Ayrshire was a virtuoso cameo, with the former Celtic and Scotland striker equalising within eight minutes of entering the fray before teeing up Docherty’s winner.
It was a statement showing from a player who, by his own admission, was frustrated not to be in the starting line-up.
“Tony came on and ran amok, if I’m being honest,” continued Docherty.
“He was disappointed not to play from the start – so he comes on and scores one and sets up another.
“That’s credit to what the manager is building here; it’s a real team ethic.
“Tony is so important to this team – but so is everyone in the squad. And that’s the key. It’s the same if Louis Moult comes on or, if they play together, they can be a handful.”
He added: “There’s never ever any panic. We’ll always try to play our way, even if we need to mix things up, and we know chances will come.”
“I may as well”
And that patience paid dividends in the dying embers at Somerset Park when Docherty ghosted in at the far post to convert Watt’s clever chip for a second goal of the season.
It is not a position Docherty – United’s metronomic engine room presence – often finds himself in.
But he had an explanation.
Docherty smiled: “I saw Tills (Jordan Tillson) on the sidelines and I thought, “I may as well go for this – I’m about to get taken off, anyway!””
The strike did nothing for Docherty’s popularity levels at his old stomping ground.
The combative midfielder enjoyed a hugely successful spell with Ayr, captaining the club and making 149 appearances for the club.
But he was jeered mercilessly – as he fully expected.
“I’m always going to get stick there,” he continued. “I loved it when I was at Ayr, but you know what it’s like – when you move on after doing well at a club, the fans are maybe not happy with you.
“I’ve scored at Somerset Park before, and it was nice, but the win was a lot more important. I’m just delighted SOMEBODY scored.”