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Dundee United defender Anthony Ralston will approach play-off clash like Champions League tie

Anthony Ralston.
Anthony Ralston.

Anthony Ralston insists he will bring the same level of intensity to tonight’s clash against Dunfermline as he did to the Champions League.

Dundee United’s on-loan defender experienced the incredible high of a top European tie with parent club Celtic against French aristocrats Paris Saint-Germain back in September, famously riling superstar striker Neymar so much that he refused to shake hands or change shirts at the end of the match.

Fast forward a few months and Ralston finds himself at Tannadice trying to help the Tangerines get past the Pars and into the Premiership play-off semi-final against Livingston, with promotion back to the top flight the ultimate goal.

As was the case against Brazilian ace Neymar, he is up for the challenge.

Ralston, who was yesterday called up by Scotland’s under-21s for the summer tournament in Toulon, France, said: “There is so much at stake in this game so I will go into it the same way as I did when playing in the Champions League.

“I want to win and I want to do my best for the team.

“There is no difference in those games in any sense for me because I just want to win no matter who it’s against.

“It would also mean a lot to me to help the team and the club back into the Premiership.

“That is the aim everyone has and I would love to contribute something to United getting back to where they want to be.

“It was tough dropping out of the Celtic team after getting a taste of the Champions League but that’s football.

“I was living the dream but injuries happen and you just have to get on with it.

“Everyone takes knocks in their career but it’s how you respond to it that matters.

“Coming to United has provided the pathway for me to get back to where I want to be.”

Of course, having stood on the pitch when the Champions League anthem is playing, Ralston won’t be a bag of nerves ahead of this clash with the Pars.

“I am looking forward to it and there are no nerves,” he said.

“You always feel a bit of natural nerves before every game but we have the experience in our squad to cope with it.

“We have people who have played at a high level, guys like Scott McDonald and Willo Flood, so they will be important for us.

“I have my own personal experiences and you try to take them into the games you play.

“This is a new experience for me, I have really enjoyed coming here and hopefully it will continue for a few weeks to come.

“It has been good taking up this challenge.

“I needed to get games and get my fitness back to where it needs to be.

“The fans have been great, the coaching staff and the other players have also been really welcoming.

“I am young and once I was over my injury I needed to get games, so this was a great place for me to come.

“Therefore, the fact we are involved in intense, competitive games is perfect.”

United left Fife with a 0-0 on Tuesday night so it’s all to play for this evening.

Ralston added: “We were disappointed not winning the other night but East End Park is a hard place to go and I felt it made it even more difficult when they went down to 10 men.

“After the sending-off they became more compact and that meant it was tougher to break them down.

“That’s something we should have been able to deal with but it’s a new game now and we will go again.

“It is expected of us at Tannadice to be creating chances and the key will be taking them this time.

“Dunfermline will have to come out a bit more than they did in the second half so it’s going to be very competitive.

“Both teams are desperate to win because we know what the prize is if you can get through this round of games.

“There will be a good crowd because the tie is in the balance.

“The fans were great the other night and hopefully we will be able to give them something to cheer.”

The supporters can expect some changes to the starting line-up, with manager Csaba Laszlo looking to freshen up his team despite there being no fresh injuries.