Dundee United assistant boss Lee McCulloch insists no risks will be taken with Osman Sow as the striker battles back from a calf injury.
The 29-year-old front man has missed the first two competitive games of the season at Hearts and Stenhousemuir in the Betfred Cup because of the problem.
And while McCulloch is hopeful Liam Smith and Rachid Bouhenna will have recovered in time from knocks for tonight’s game in the same competition against Cowdenbeath at Tannadice, he admits Sow is still some days away from making a comeback.
However, the club are determined to tread cautiously with the former Hearts and MK Dons striker as they bid to have him fit in time for the opening of the Championship campaign at the start of next month against Inverness.
McCulloch said: “Osman’s still I think about 10 days away. He’s still struggling a wee bit.
“He just felt something in his calf. It’s not ripped and just needs to be managed.
“At this time of the season you can’t take any chances and try to rush him. It could set him back for a month or two.
“It’s just managing his calf, managing him and getting him the required game time he needs.
“I really hope he’s ready for the league.”
While United are fully focused on winning their Betfred Cup games, they are also attempting to give players meaningful game time while trying to attain continuity of selection ahead of the Championship campaign.
McCulloch added: “The cup falls at a time of the season where you can only make three subs.
“I think the whole thing about the cup is it would be good if you could make five or six subs, but we are restricted to three.
“Shrewsbury (friendly) will be a game where if there’s anybody short of game time they will hopefully get a whole 90 minutes.
“We are trying to get a wee bit of continuity in the team. A lot of players came in during the January window and it was hard to get them settled in in such a short period of time.
“Now we’ve had pre-season it’s still trying to get that continuity in the team.
“We’re finding the balance. It might take a couple of games still, but we’re getting there and hopefully we’ll be ready for the season starting.
“There is always stuff to work on at this time of the season. It is a balancing act but we’ll get there.”
United were made to work hard for their victory over Stenhousemuir at Ochilview on Tuesday night and McCulloch is expecting a similar tough test against Gary Bollan’s League 2 part-timers this evening.
He said: “I’ve played in many games like this and the big thing the players are realising is that to come to a place like Tannadice, teams lift their game.
“No matter who you are playing against they will be raising their game playing at a nice stadium and on a nice pitch.
“The boys have realised that, that they are a scalp.
“There is no room for complacency at all.”