Dundee United ‘not concentrating on league summit’

Simon Donnelly wants to regain pole position in the Premiership. Picture: Susan Nisbet

Simon Donnelly wants to regain pole position in the Premiership. Picture: Susan Nisbet

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DUNDEE United assistant manager Simon Donnelly says it would be a massive boost for the side to regain pole position in the Scottish Premiership – but will not be letting them get carried away by the prospect.

The Tangerines can go back to the top of the table, where they were positioned earlier in the season, provided they beat Hamilton at Tannadice on Saturday and league leaders Inverness fail to win away to Partick Thistle.

United are currently third top and have lost just once, away to champions Celtic, so go into their home meeting with second-top Hamilton confident of continuing their fine run of form.

Donnelly would take satisfaction from seeing them go top but is not about to think they are suddenly the finished article.

“It’s another big game,” he said. “As far as we’re concerned, it’s early days to be talking about league positions. I would say we should wait to when we are maybe 20 games in to see how things are taking shape. That’s how we’ll be taking things but we obviously still want to do as well as we can this weekend and see what happens.”

Donnelly respects what Alex Neil’s Accies have done since being promoted to the top flight in the summer but wants his own side to take the game firmly to the visitors.

He said: “All credit to Hamilton. They have got off to a great start with some positive results.

“But so have we when you look at it and we want to try and keep things going. With the obvious exception of the Celtic game, we have looked really solid from the centre-halves right through the team.

Jason Scotland’s prospective return to Dundee United today reminds the veteran Hamilton striker of his time as a reluctant pupil at Tannadice.

After arriving at the Tayside club in 2003 from Trinidad and Tobago, Scotland found himself being educated by senior professionals at United such as Billy Dodds, Charlie Miller and Jim McIntyre.

After moving on to play for St Johnstone, Swansea, Ipswich, Wigan and Barnsley, picking up 41 caps for his country along the way, the 35-year-old returned to Accies in January and helped them into the Premiership through the Championship play-offs.

Scotland now finds himself the “father figure” in the New Douglas Park dressing room and passing on words of wisdom he admits finding hard to accept when they were aimed at him.

He said: “I was at Dundee United when Billy Dodds, Charlie Miller and Jim McIntyre were senior players and they used to be always chirping at me about rules and how to play and what to do as a striker.

“I was thinking ‘what are they talking about?’ “It is the same here at Hamilton with me, the young guys will be thinking, ‘why is he always talking, why doesn’t he shut up?’

“But I am just trying to tell them the right things and guide them and maybe five or six years down the line they will be saying ‘Jason was right’.”

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