Dundee United manager Jackie McNamara understands why Chris Erskine was so unhappy at being a sixth-minute substitute.
Erskine was the innocent victim of United goalkeeper Michal Szromnik’s early red card against Inverness Caley Thistle on Tuesday night.
After the young Polish goalie brought down ICT striker Marley Watkins inside the box, Erskine kept his head down and hoped he wouldn’t be the one to make way for replacement keeper Rado Cierzniak.
However, it was a case of “Come in number 17, your time’s up” and off he went, showing his displeasure at McNamara’s decision as he walked to the dugout.
However, all is well between boss and player.
McNamara said: “Chris is all right about it.
“He is a moany-faced git anyway!” added the smiling Tannadice gaffer.
“Seriously, I would have been more disappointed if he wasn’t angry and disappointed about coming off.
“It shows he cares.
“If he didn’t care then then he wouldn’t have reacted as he did.
“As long as it’s not over the top, which it wasn’t, then that’s OK by me.
“I had to make the decision and it was between him and young Aidan (Connolly) at that point because they are forward players.
“We left Aidan on and Chris will be fresh for the weekend now.
“I know Chris well and brought him here partly because he has a great attitude.
“We have had a laugh about and I have told him that he’s a grumpy so-and-so!”
While it looks an odds-on bet that Erskine will start against Partick Thistle on Saturday, McNamara may still freshen up his team after they played for almost the entire game with just 10 men.
“We will see how the players are energy-wise after that shift on Tuesday night and decide whether or not we need to make changes,” he said.
“We played for 80-odd minutes with 10 men but I thought their energy was fantastic and they showed a real desire.
Asked if, given the circumstances, it was one of United’s better displays of the season despite only drawing 1-1 with the Highlanders, McNamara replied: “Yes, it possibly was.
“The attitude was there from front to back.
“We had Nadir (Ciftci) moving about, showing real desire and a different side to his game; in the midfield both (Paul) Paton and (Calum) Butcher were excellent; then, at the back, after a tricky start I felt Ryan (McGowan) and Jarek (Fojut) got to grips with things.
“For long periods it looked like we were the ones who had the extra man.”
McNamara won’t now have a goalkeeping dilemma to resolve, with Szromnik banned for the Thistle match and Cierzniak back in.
The United gaffer said: “I have spoken to Michal and the start he has had has been unfortunate but he is young and will learn from it.
“There has been some banter around the place and that’s just part of the job.
“He has to handle that and the pressure, just as everyone else does.
“Also, I spoke to Rado before the weekend to tell him that we would be giving him a little rest.
“He has taken criticism and has been carrying the thigh injury, which has been affecting his kicking, going as far back to the Hamilton game in January.
“So we decided to take him out for a bit and then to put him back in for the important games coming up.”
Meanwhile, McNamara will run the rule over Australian youngster Jesse Curran, who is expected to arrive at the club for a 10-day trial next month.
The 18-year-old midfielder from Central Coast Mariners has spoken excitedly about the prospect of a Premiership chance.
Curran said: “If I do well over that period I get to stay for maybe six weeks and get a contract after that.
“I’m excited to go overseas – that’s my ambition to play over there.”