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Tannadice boss Robbie Neilson insists promotion pressure is on Dundee as well as title favourites Dundee United

Robbie Neilson.
Robbie Neilson.

Dundee United boss Robbie Neilson thinks there will be as much promotion pressure on city rivals Dundee as on his own team.

The new Championship season kicks off on Friday night when the newly-relegated Dark Blues head to Dunfermline.

United have an extra day to wait for Saturday’s league curtain raiser against Inverness Caley Thistle at Tannadice, a fixture that will see the fans gather in the hope and expectation that this will be their year.

The bookies have kept the faith with the Tangerines despite an embarrassing Betfred Cup defeat to East Fife, with Robbie Neilson’s men on average 9-4 favourites to finally lift the title after three seasons of play-off misery.

That puts them ahead of Dundee, ICT and Partick Thistle in the markets but Neilson believes the pressure will be shared around when the action gets under way.

He said: “There is pressure on a lot of teams.

“I think Dundee will be the same as us.

“They will be the favourites to go back up because they’ve just come straight down.

“Everyone is trying to keep the glare away from them but there is no denying we are the two biggest teams in the league this season.

“You have to accept that and just take it on the chin and prove there is a reason why people are saying that.

“There are a couple of other sides in there as well because they have invested a lot of money.

“Everyone is under pressure at the start of the season and that’s why you want to get that first result. You want to get points on the board early – that is very important.

“The first month for us is a tough one.

“We go on Saturday at home to Inverness and then we go to Partick. We have Dunfermline after that and then we have the derby (at home to Dundee) so it’s a chance for us to put down a marker.

“It would be a great start for us if we could take maximum points so we go into the first game looking to do that and then kick on from there.

“We are more than comfortable about going into these games and being the guys who have to take the pressure.

“I think we are looking good.”

Neilson’s optimism comes despite that shock loss to the Fifers and another defeat in the friendly against English side Shrewsbury Town on Saturday.

He has been seeing the bigger picture, saying: “It has been a quick pre-season with all the games.

“We had 10 days and then were straight into the Betfred games so we are looking forward to getting going now.

“Fitness-wise we are good and we had a good run-out again down at Shrewsbury.”

Neilson insisted that the East Fife result is out of the system and that the supporters will see a refreshed and enthusiastic team turn out against ICT.

He said: “I think when you go into these Betfred games you see, with all the results in the sections, that there are some good wins and some bad results. It is just the nature of where you are in the season.

“It has still had a pre-season feel to it and I think everyone has it.

“We got the disappointing result but we have to put that to bed and focus on the next one.

“I do think the build-up to this game will be totally different.”

Neilson, meanwhile, confirmed that he is still looking to add a new winger to his squad despite the new league season about to begin.

The United boss, who let Rachid Bouhenna leave earlier this week, said: “We are still looking to bring one more in.

“That has been the case for a while and we are still working very hard on that.

“There have been a few who have moved out recently and the rest of the squad I’m very pleased with.

“It is important we don’t have a huge squad with boys that aren’t going to be involved.

“We also have a lot of good young ones coming through that we are going to try and get game time.

“Rachid did well and I think we saw the best of him towards the end of the season.

“His wife and the kids hadn’t settled so he got the opportunity to go somewhere else with a longer contract so it worked out for both parties.”