DUNDEE United star Chris Erskine last night warned Celtic they are in the perfect shape for today’s Parkhead showdown – and are on a mission to make it a hat-trick of straight wins.
Jackie McNamara’s high-flying United side take on Ronny Deila’s men in today’s televised lunchtime clash at Parkhead, brimming with self belief as they sit top of the Scottish Premiership following their early exploits.
The early-season league leaders are buzzing after back-to-back wins over Aberdeen and Motherwell banished their slow-starter tag as they began the new campaign with a bang.
United, who have not won at Parkhead since Boxing Day 1992, are eyeing a third consecutive league victory and midfielder Erskine insists they will settle for nothing less in this afternoon’s clash with the Hoops.
Erskine said: “We have done very well so far.
“Looking at the fixtures when they came out we realised it was probably the toughest start we could have had – Aberdeen, Motherwell and then Celtic.
“To have come through the first two of those matches with a couple of victories is great. So it’s two down one to go I guess.
“We will be looking forward to the match at Parkhead and I think the key thing is to go there believing in our own ability. I think we have a strong squad and are in good shape.
“We have our momentum up so we will go there with confidence high looking for a good result. We have six points in the bag but, of course, we want that to be nine out of nine come Saturday night.”
United kept up their 100 per cent league record thanks to their late win over Stuart McCall’s Motherwell at Tannadice in midweek which came after their opponents had made life difficult for them for long spells.
But Erskine reckons the free-flowing Tangerines, renowned for their slick passing game, will relish facing Deila’s side and the way the Glasgow giants also like to attack.
Erskine said: “I believe that the way Celtic play will suit us. They will let us play and won’t sit in the way Motherwell did the other night. They will try to attack us so hopefully they will play into our hands.”
The Taysiders finished fourth in the table last season and Erskine hopes they can mount a challenge at the top for as long as possible as they aim to improve on last term.
Erskine said: “Everyone always expects Celtic to run away with the league. So maybe we should be aiming to be the best of the rest while also doing well in the cups.
“With the budget Celtic have and the resources and facilities there they will always be overwhelming favourites, but you do like to hope you could challenge them.”
Erskine, 27, is enjoying a new lease of life back at Tannadice following his successful loan spell at Partick Thistle during the second half of last season.Having joined United from the Jags last summer, he struggled to gain a regular starting slot so was loaned back to his old club in January.
Now, though, he is intent on making himself a mainstay in the United team and now feels far more equipped to do so.
He said: “I have really enjoyed it since I came back. Given everything that happened last year, I would have been happy just to be in the gaffer’s plans but it’s been more than that.
“I have featured in those first two games and scored at Pittodrie. It was terrific to get on the scoresheet and I do want to add more goals to my game. The gaffer has told me to keep doing what I am doing and the chances will come.
“At the time I went to Thistle, I just wanted to play games because I didn’t think the matches were going to come for me here. I think it has done me a bit of good. I hadn’t really played at this level before so that spell helped me and I feel I have come back stronger for the experience. I feel I am more ready this season than I was last.”
Meanwhile, McNamara wants to see his side rise to the occasion in Glasgow in their quest to maintain their sizzling start.
He said: “We’ll be focusing on what we do ourselves. These are always great games to play in and we want to carry on our good start as much as possible.
“The players are looking forward to it and hopefully it’s a game we can enjoy and do what we’re good at.”
United are still missing defensive duo John Souttar and Mark Wilson through injury.