Nicky Clark welcomed pal Lawrence Shankland to Dundee United – and the increased competition for striker places – with open arms.
The duo have been mates for a while and have spent time in each other’s company at family barbecues and at games.
Clark was one of the first friendly faces to greet the former Ayr front man, who scored a remarkable 34 goals last season, when he signed for the Tangerines earlier this month.
He is confident Shankland will be a major player for United this season and will keep all the other strikers at the club, including himself, on their toes.
Clark, who played alongside Shankland as he made a scoring debut against Hearts last Friday night, said: “First and foremost, Lawrence is a great lad who I have known for a wee while now.
“I was actually good pals with one of his mates when I was at Rangers and just got to know him from there at barbecues and family stuff.
“We have been to a couple of games together, spending a bit of time outside of football.
“I’m not saying I am best mates with him but I knew him before he came to United.
“Hopefully that maybe helped him when he came in, having someone he knew he could talk to.
“He obviously scored at Tynecastle to get off to a flier so I am delighted for him getting that.
“He has been looking really sharp in training and you can see he is a good finisher, left foot, right foot and headers.
“So I am sure he will be a big asset for us this year.”
Clark added: “I have always said you need competition for places, especially strikers.
“It is arguably the hardest job and goals are the main thing.
“But we have players here who can do that – proven goalscorers.
“It is good to have and it keeps you on your toes, that’s for sure.”
The duo could both be back in Betfred Cup action against Cowdenbeath at Tannadice tonight with Clark admitting he prefers the early start to meaningful matches compared to friendlies with little at stake.
He said: “The cup games seem to be coming round quicker every year but it is good to get into competitive action right away.
“We had a couple of friendlies building up to them but it is good going to places like Tynecastle and competing against one of the top teams in Scotland.
“I thought we did that well last Friday night so it is definitely good to have these games and the boys are enjoying them.
“So it will be great to be at Tannadice on Friday night in front of the home fans once again.
“But it will be tough as I am sure they will set up to try to stop us from playing.
“It is down to us to get the ball moving fast and to secure the win.”
While looking forward to what this season holds, Clark revealed that the pain of missing out on promotion in the last campaign took some time to heal.
United, of course, lost on penalties against St Mirren but the striker is determined there will be no slip-ups this time.
When asked how long it took to recover from being denied promotion, Clark said: “It wasn’t quick, that’s for sure.
“It was really disappointing. The way it ended with the penalties was such a shock. It was a horrible way to lose.
“Players miss penalties – I did it last week at Hearts – but to miss four . . . I have never seen that before.
“It was so disappointing and was hard to get over at the time but it is a fresh start and season for everybody.
“We need to kick on and make sure we do it this year. Winning every game is the main aim.
“That’s what we have set out to do but the main objective is to win this league this year.
“We need to do it for the club, for the fans and for us as players.”