Jackie McNamara relishing Kilmarnock clash

Jackie McNamara has been pleased with tempo in training. Picture: SNS
Jackie McNamara has been pleased with tempo in training. Picture: SNS
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Dundee United manager Jackie McNamara says his players are desperate to get back to Scottish Premiership business ahead of today’s visit of Kilmarnock.

The Tangerines’ last outing ended in a 1-0 league defeat at Motherwell in their Friday night fixture at Fir Park before the international break.

Now they are preparing to host Killie on Tayside and McNamara believes his side, who were top of the table prior to their match with Motherwell, are relishing their return to domestic action.

He said: “We’re really looking forward to the game. It’s been a bit stop-start. The Motherwell game recently now seems like a long time ago.

“That’s football for you, but it’s always nice to get back into the real stuff.

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“The tempo and intensity of training has been good all week. There is strong competition for places and that’s what we want. So it should be a good game and we’re ready for it.”

United have been strong on home soil so far this season and that is something McNamara is keen to continue against Allan Johnston’s men.

He said: “We’re at home and we’ve got to make sure we go and win the game. Of course, we want to get back to winning ways. For me, the important thing is we’re at home and we’ve got to go and try to get the three points.

“Our home record has been good and we want that to keep going. I think it’s important that you get results at your home ground.”

United’s defeat by Motherwell cost them the chance to extend their lead at the top of the table, but they created chances that night and McNamara wants to see them show a cutting edge this time.

“That was one we should have won,” he said. “We had enough opportunities to win it in the first half.

“But we didn’t and we know that if we get openings like that against Kilmarnock we have to make sure we take them.

“Kilmarnock have been doing well this season, but we’ll look after ourselves and it’s up to us what we do.”

United midfielder John Rankin is out today with a knee injury, while striker Mario Bilate remains sidelined with a hamstring problem.

The Kilmarnock goalkeeper, Craig Samson, hopes some unusual shooting practice has set his team up for their trip to Tannadice.

Killie manager Johnston took advantage of the international break to take his players away for a day of extra-curricular activities.

Samson said: “We had a good week’s training and the manager did a bit of a bonding session with the boys last weekend.

“We had a day playing golf and then clay pigeon shooting. Rory McKenzie and Alexei Eremenko were the best at that so it was good that the forward players were the best marksmen.

“It was good for everyone to get together but this week we have focused on Dundee United and trained very well.”

Killie are on the back of three consecutive defeats, including home losses to Dundee and Ross County in which they shipped three goals in each match.

But Samson is confident they can get those setbacks out of their system in the Scottish Premiership encounter against Dundee United.

“We have spoken about the Ross County game, seen where we went wrong and now moved on,” the former United player said.

“We need to put in a good performance and get us back in the top six.

“This is one of the hardest matches, but we have to take confidence from how we played against them at Rugby Park.”

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