Sam Stanton is almost the last man standing in the Dundee United midfield but he is determined that the Tangerines’ injury crisis won’t wreck their promotion challenge.
United have been left reeling after suffering a festive season to forget, losing star duo Scott Fraser (fractured foot) and Fraser Fyvie (cruciate ligaments) to season-ending injuries, while also coming off second best in the Championship’s top-of-the-table clash against St Mirren.
The damage was done to Fyvie’s knee in the home win over Livingston 10 days ago, while Fraser had to hobble off during Friday’s defeat to the Buddies after his old foot problem flared up again.
Both men will require surgery and it will be left to their teammates, including Stanton, to keep United in the title hunt.
They now sit five points behind league leaders St Mirren – with a game in hand – following that 2-0 setback in Paisley but have the chance to regain some momentum when they face bottom club Brechin City at Tannadice this afternoon.
Stanton is adamant that United can keep putting pressure on the Buddies despite the injury blows and insists no one at Tannadice is feeling sorry for themselves.
“It is unfortunate but it is not something we can use as an excuse,” he said.
“We have won without key players in the team before.
“I thought we were capable of winning the St Mirren game even despite the injuries so that won’t be used as an excuse by us.”
Tannadice chairman Stephen Thompson are his board are determined to give boss Csaba Laszlo the funds he needs to recruit wisely and productively now that the transfer window has opened.
Both manager and directors have continued working over the festive season as they try to find the right standard of player and fans can expect at least two new faces to arrive, hopefully sooner rather than later.
The injury blows aside, the Tangerines were their own worst enemy as they went down to a decidedly average St Mirren team on Friday.
They were the better team in the first half and should have gone 1-0 up when awarded a penalty. However, Paul McMullan’s spotkick was a poor one and St Mirren keeper Craig Samson made the save.
Two moments of magic from Celtic-bound midfielder Lewis Morgan then gave the hosts their two-goal advantage as United fell out of the match.
Asked if he could pinpoint what went wrong, Stanton said: “I can’t put my finger on why it was such a flat display.
“It wasn’t through a lack of effort or game plan – it was just one of those things, unfortunately.
“It just didn’t happen for us.
“I thought we were by far the better team in the first half and we had three or four chances to take the lead, not just the penalty.
“When you don’t score, though, that is your own fault.
“Then, in the second half, we weren’t good enough and didn’t get going.
“We just didn’t play well enough.
“We are very disappointed about that, obviously.
“It was a big game and we would have gone above St Mirren had we won.
“Even a point would have been better for us than them but we lost the game so it is disappointing.”
Stanton still believes that the Tangerines are still right in the race, though, and that they can get back on track by beating City on the same day that St Mirren face a tricky-looking derby trip to Cappielow to face Morton.
“Of course, it can change quickly at the top of the table,” he said.
“Any team can beat any team in this league because it is that competitive.
“We have seen that with results already this season.
“We are definitely still in it and we have got the game in hand and need to play St Mirren again this season as well.
“So there is plenty of time.”
While United will definitely be without Fraser and Fyvie, there is still a possibility that captain Willo Flood will be fit to join Stanton in the middle of the park.
The Irishman, who had just returned from a shoulder problem, failed to finish the game on Friday after suffering a dead leg.
However, manager Laszlo said: “He had a dead leg and at the time thought it was just a kick on the muscle and that he could play on.
“He had to come off eventually but I think he will be OK for the Brechin game.”
Stewart Murdoch had been expected to be fit for this game but may have to wait until Saturday’s trip to Falkirk for his comeback.