Mixu Paatelainen: Cup run can boost our confidence

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Dundee United manager Mixu Paatelainen sees significant value in a League Cup run despite their ongoing fight against relegation.

Even though Paatelainen tasted victory as United boss for the first time on Saturday, when they beat Ross County 1-0 at Tannadice, United remain bottom of the Ladbrokes Premiership and six points off tenth place.

Dundee United manager Mixu Paatelainen sees significant value in a League Cup run. Picture: SNS Group

Dundee United manager Mixu Paatelainen sees significant value in a League Cup run. Picture: SNS Group

But Paatelainen’s focus is now on their quarter-final at Easter Road tonight against a Hibernian side fresh from victory over Championship leaders Rangers.

The Finn, pictured right, said: “Cups are very important for us, no question about it. This tie is an opportunity to advance to the semi-finals and who knows what might happen from there?

“It’s a chance for players to do well and semi-finals and finals are always great occasions and real confidence-boosters, and, of course, for supporters they are important. Dundee United over the years have been successful in cups, getting to the later stages.

“We want to do the same this year, but it won’t be easy. Even though Hibs are in the Championship, they have Premiership class and standards in their side. Hibs are flying high and had a great victory on Sunday against Rangers. Confidence is high, they are scoring goals and defended solidly.

“Hibs are a quality team. They have plenty of energy and Alan Stubbs has done a tremendous job there building the side. They have different types of players, good variation and their bench is strong.

“They are also flexible in the formation they play. The way he gets his team playing is very positive.”

Paatelainen’s team kept only their second clean sheet of the season on Saturday and he knows they will do well to make it three in Leith.

The former Hibs player and manager said: “They are getting goals from all departments. We need to be on our toes and have a similar, if not better, defensive display as we did against Ross County on 
Saturday.

“We realise it’s only one victory. I don’t think football-wise it was magnificent. There is plenty to improve on, but with the attitude the players have, I know it will improve.”

Paatelainen is close to his first signing in Japan goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima, but the 32-year-old will not feature in Edinburgh. Kawashima, who left Standard Liege in the summer, is in Scotland and is set to provide competition for Luis Zwick and Michal Szromnik.

“Eiji has agreed everything but he can’t sign the contract until the work permit issue has been resolved,” Paatelainen said. “I don’t know how long the process takes. It would be nice if Eiji joins us because he will help our young goalkeepers with his experience. He is a seasoned professional with 70 caps for Japan.”

Meanwhile, Dundee United have an unchanged squad for their trip to Easter Road.

Aidan Connolly is free to play despite being sent off against Ross County on Saturday, while Paul Dixon has returned to training following hernia surgery but is not ready to feature.

Mario Bilate (knee), Chris Erskine (pelvis), Paul Paton (knee), Ryan Dow (groin) and Callum Morris (calf) remain on the sidelines.

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