DUNDEE United manager Jackie McNamara defended the sweeping changes he made to his line-up in Perth yesterday as he hauled eight players in from the cold, only to lose 3-0 to Stevie May-inspired St Johnstone.
May grabbed a hat-trick while the visitors finished with ten men for the second match running following Calum Butcher’s red card. But the main talking point came before kick-off when the team sheets revealed the Tannadice manager had made huge changes following their 4-1 Boxing Day defeat to St Mirren.
Keith Watson was suspended after his red card in Paisley, while teenage sensation Ryan Gauld was also ruled out with a groin strain. And McNamara insisted he had further injury concerns to contend with.
He said: “Injuries were behind it. A few of the boys were carrying knocks but I took a gamble by putting [Gary] Mackay-Steven and [Stuart] Armstrong on the bench after they passed a fitness test this morning.
“[Ryan] Gauld is out with a groin problem, Gavin Gunning is struggling with his knee, and Keith Watson is obviously suspended after being sent off in the last game. So a lot of it was forced. The only one that wasn’t forced was leaving out John Rankin for [Morgaro] Gomis.
“John has played a lot of games. Putting Mackay-Steven and Armstrong on the bench was a gamble, and I hope they’ll be okay for Wednesday. I don’t know how many will be fit for the Aberdeen game, hopefully I’ll have a better idea tomorrow.”
With a patch-work side as opposition, Saints made the most of the opportunity and claimed their first home win over their Tayside rivals since November 2000.
Neither May nor any other Perth player had scored in their previous four Scottish Premiership games but May ended his 460-minute wait in style with a penalty midway through the first half and a second on 57 minutes before he poked home his third two minutes from time.