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6 Dundee United transfer priorities as Tangerines prepare for Premiership push

The Tangerines are likely to be busy this summer.

Jim Goodwin is pictured as Dundee United defeat Peterhead at Tannadice
Jim Goodwin will spearhead a summer of change at Tannadice. Image: SNS

“It’s a step up in quality and class and we have to make sure we recruit well to make us competitive in the league above.”

Those were the words of Dundee United boss Jim Goodwin following the Tangerines’ 1-0 victory over Ayr United that effectively sealed the Championship title.

His message that the top-flight was a “different kettle of fish” to the season just gone was underlined when 15 players departed last month, including Mr. Consistency Scott McMann, Chris Mochrie, Archie Meekison and David Wotherspoon.

It has left United’s recruitment team with a busy summer ahead – they are already down the line with a few targets – as they seek to build a new-look squad for their return to the Premiership.

Dundee United lift the trophy.
15 of Dundee United’s title winners have departed. Image: SNS

Here, Courier Sport analyses some of the areas that are likely to be top priorities in the coming days, weeks and months.

Goalkeeper (x2)

Jack Walton leaves big gloves to fill.

Walton kept a remarkable 19 clean sheets in 36 league appearances – a new club record for United – and conceded just 23 goals. He was the picture of composure and solidity between the sticks.

He left the door to Tannadice slightly ajar upon his exit, stating: “I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. So, that (prospect of returning) is a conversation we’ll have to have over the summer.”

Dave Richards is set to join Dundee United
Richards, pictured, is expected to join on a two-year contract. Image: Shutterstock.

However, with a year left to run on his deal with Luton Town, his return is anything but a cast-iron certainty.

United will welcome Dave Richards, who spent last season on loan at St Johnstone without playing a competitive game, from Crewe Alexandra on a two-year contract imminently.

But the Tangerines will remain in the market for another stopper to battle for the No.1 berth.

As well as creating a healthy sense of competition, that would also allow Jack Newman – a Scotland U/21 international of some promise – to go out on loan and pursue much-needed first-team football.

Left-back / left wing-back

The most eye-catching departure of United’s exodus last month was McMann.

The 27-year-old was rock-solid, consistent and an increasing threat going forward during the Tangerines’ charge to the Championship title, albeit two goals and one assist was a modest total from 35 games in the second tier.

As such, the imperative to appropriately replace McMann is huge – and United believe they have someone who fits the bill.

Will Ferry, right, in full flow for Cheltenham Town
Will Ferry, right, in full flow for Cheltenham Town. Image: Shutterstock.

The Terrors are close to securing the signing of Will Ferry following his exit from Cheltenham Town, having seen off fierce competition from English League One outfit Blackpool.

Ferry, a former Sunderland youngster and Ireland U/21 international, notched four assists and two goals in 46 appearances last term, shining in an otherwise struggling Robins side.

He is more comfortable playing as a wing-back, raising the prospect that Goodwin could deploy a back-three next term.

Right-back / right wing-back

Liam Grimshaw can be content following a reliable campaign at right-back for United.

He made 33 Championship appearances and played his part in the most watertight defence in Scottish league football. Not to be sniffed at.

However, Grimshaw – by his own admission, more comfortable in midfield – surrendered his place in the side to Miller Thomson for a period during the run-in, with the talented teenager taking to the unfamiliar role like a duck to water.

Thomson was more naturally attacking and whipped in a mean set-piece.

Dundee United kid Miller Thomson
Thomson has penned a three-year deal. Image: Dundee United FC

However, is either player ready to play as a right-back or right wing-back in the Scottish Premiership on a weekly basis? An onerous task.

Departed St Mirren flyer Ryan Strain is admired at Tannadice but no offer has been made and the player is likely to have lucrative options in England.

A right-sided centre-back

United have tied Kevin Holt and Ross Graham to new deals, while Declan Gallagher is already contracted until 2025.

However, Sam McClelland’s return to St Johnstone leaves an obvious gap to be filled.

The Tangerines will pursue a mobile, right-sided centre-back to strengthen their pool going into the top-flight.

An option with the pedigree to battle for a starting place would be preferable, while affording Goodwin the scope to deploy a back-three, should he choose.

Volendam defender Brian Plat
Not a target: Volendam defender Brian Plat. Image: Shutterstock.

Social media tittle-tattle credited United with an interest in Dutch centre-back / right-back Brian Plat of FC Volendam, but that is a non-starter.

A versatile, mobile forward

Adding pace, energy and efficacy in the final third will be key.

Alex Greive had a limited impact on loan from St Mirren during the tail-end of last term, but the need for additional pace and mobility to compliment the physicality, clinical touch and nous of Louis Moult and Tony Watt remains.

Kristijan Trapanovski, a likely arrival from North Macedonia, operates primarily from the left wing but can also play as a second striker, potentially adding another string to Goodwin’s bow.

However, it remains to be seen whether United also have more orthodox attacking targets.

More online rumours crediting the Terrors with an interest in Stevie May are completely without foundation.

A traditional No.9

It would be reductive to say United want a battering ram.

Sealed with a kiss: Dundee United's prolific strike-pair Tony Watt, left, and Louis Moult
Dundee United’s prolific strike-pair Tony Watt, left, and Louis Moult. Image: SNS

However, they are certainly in the market to add some more presence to their attack, given the challenges ahead in the Premiership.

Moult can hold his own in the air, as can Watt.

But neither are traditional target men – and both are sufficiently clever and instinctive to benefit from the presence of “a No.9”, whether from the start or as a Plan B.