Nicky Clark is confident Dundee United’s poor start to competitive action will soon be forgotten once the Championship campaign begins in earnest.
The former Rangers and Dunfermline striker took full responsibility for failing to tuck away a potentially match-winning penalty away to Ross County on Tuesday night.
Scott Fox’s remarkable late double save, with a stunning recovery to block Clark’s second attempt on the rebound, was a prelude to a Jamie Lindsay winner for the Staggies.
Defeat in Dingwall piled pressure on manager Csaba Laszlo and left the Tannadice club’s League Cup group qualification hopes hanging by a thread following Saturday’s less-than-impressive draw with League One Arbroath.
But Clark stressed it was too early to judge a squad featuring 10 new signings and expressed confidence the team would be ready for the league campaign kicking off in just over a fortnight’s time.
The 27-year-old, who left Dunfermline to sign a two-year deal with United in the summer, said: “Tuesday night was one of those games that could easily have gone either way.
“For the penalty, I’ve got to score it. I’m really disappointed and I take full responsibility.
“To be fair, it was an unbelievable save from Scott Fox on the rebound – I don’t know how he got to it.
“It just wasn’t to be for me on the night, but I’m a striker – I go again. A setback like that won’t hold me back. I just get my head up and go again.
“In terms of where we stand, we can only take the positives from the evening in terms of a better all-round performance than on Saturday against Arbroath.
“We played better, got the ball forward quicker and used it better. From that perspective, there was progress.
“But the most important aspect in football is getting three points and we never managed it.”
Clark admits progress to the second round of the League Cup will be tough now but feels certain the gelling process is already underway.
He stressed: “The County defeat leaves us in a difficult position in the group and shows there is still a lot of work to be done.
“It’s hard – there are obviously a lot of new faces who have come into the club. We knew, even before Saturday, it would take time for us all to gel together.
“We have to get used to the way the manager wants to play his football and to get used to how players around us like to play.
“But there is a lot of talent in the squad and these Betfred Cup games are a good way of bringing it together.
“I’m sure by the time the league campaign starts we’ll be ready and raring to go.”
Clark expects County, already broadly listed as joint favourites with United and Partick Thistle, to be contenders in the Championship
He added: “Ross County, I’m sure, will be one of the teams up there in the Championship this season.
“But we will just concentrate on ourselves. We know what our objective is this season and we will do our best not to let anyone stop us from achieving it.”