Dundee United’s players have fate in their own hands

Dundee United’s players are ready to rescue the club’s season by qualifying for Europe.

Defender Ryan McGowan accepts they are the only people who can transform what has so far been a terrible 2015 into a campaign that ends with qualification for Europe.

They can secure continental competition by either finishing third or ending up fourth and praying that Inverness Caley Thistle beat Falkirk in the Scottish Cup final.

Achieving either goal will be a big ask when you consider just how bad their results have been since January and they have now slipped down into fifth behind both ICT and St Johnstone.

However, McGowan insists his teammmates are determined to finish on a high note.

“We have a lot of important games coming up and our aim is to get into Europe,” said the Tannadice defender.

“At the start of the season, our fans were probably looking for good cup runs and to finish as high up the league table as possible.

“I only joined halfway through the season and we were already in the semi-final of the League Cup when I joined.

“We then got to the final against Celtic, took Celtic to a replay in the Scottish Cup and we are now aiming for a European place.

“If we can do that then it will be quite a successful season, I think.

“It is down to us a group of players now.

“No one else is going to do that for us.

“The management can only do so much, as can the supporters, because it’s us who go out on to the pitch.

“So first and foremost it is up to the players to lift the club and get that place in Europe.

“Our fans have been outstanding over the last couple of months given what’s gone on both on and off the field.

“They have followed us in numbers to the away games and gotten behind the team at Tannadice.

“So it would be good for us to finish well.”

It is not so long ago that the Tangeriens were being talked about in the same sentence as Aberdeen, today’s visitors to Tannadice, as serious challengers to the Hoops for the Premiership title.

Going into this match, though, United sit a whopping 25 points behind the Dons.

So what has gone wrong to make that gap so big?

“There are a lot of factors involved,” said McGowan.

“It’s not just us because Inverness have probably been in similar form over the last couple of months.

“It is a real credit to Aberdeen that they have broken away from the other two teams and challenged Celtic for so long.

“The management team have done such a good job up there.”

United will welcome Nadir Ciftci back from suspension but Robbie Muirhead may well keep his place up front after showing up well against Celtic last Sunday.

Manager Jackie McNamara said: “Having Nadir back is a boost, especially after how Robbie played last weekend.

“Robbie is a confident lad and you saw what he could do.

“The thing I like about him is that he’s not scared to have a pop at goal. He takes any opportunity to shoot.

“I feel that has been something we have lacked lately.”

Calum Butcher is banned so he will miss out, while Chris Erskine banged his hip last weekend but should be OK.