Dunfermline midfielder Michael Paton has warned Dundee United that they have more than just St Mirren to worry about in the Championship title race.
United lost top spot to the Buddies in midweek but the Pars, currently in fourth, have also been at the summit this season and are determined to get back there as they prepare to travel to Tannadice this afternoon.
Allan Johnston’s men have not won in their last four league games and have been left lamenting draws at home to Morton and Dumbarton in the space of just four days last week that cost them valuable points.
But Paton, who is back fit after seven weeks out with a knee injury, is convinced the Fifers can rediscover their early-season form and get themselves back in the promotion hunt.
He said: “We’ve played everybody once now and I think in the top four it’s swings and roundabouts. It’s just about how consistent you are and if you can go on a wee run.
“We’re just as good as St Mirren and Dundee United. I don’t think you can say United are stick-ons – I think we are a threat and so are St Mirren.
“Obviously, United see themselves as a Premiership club and they want to get back there as quickly as possible.
“But we’ve got our own job to do and our aim is to challenge at the top of the league.
“We see ourselves as a Premiership team as well, and so do St Mirren.
“We started the season well and have maybe hit a rough patch but we’re still there or thereabouts and we believe we can go up there and get the three points this weekend.”
Paton has been a second-half substitute in the last two games as he has fought his way back to fitness.
And he hopes his comeback has been timed perfectly as Dunfermline bid to cope with the loss of Aaron Splaine – one of only three central midfielders in the squad – to a double leg break.
The former Aberdeen and Queen of the South attacker added: “It’s a massive game this weekend. I’ve scored a couple against United in the last couple of seasons, so hopefully I can do that again on Saturday if I get a chance.”