Gunning’s horizons stretch only as far season’s end

Gavin Gunning: End of contract. Picture: SNS
Gavin Gunning: End of contract. Picture: SNS
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GAVIN Gunning could make his farewell appearance at Tanna-dice tonight, but the Irishman will not be rushed into a decision about his future.

The in-demand Dundee United defender is gearing up to face Aberdeen in what may prove to be his final outing on Tayside as his contract expires at the end of the summer.

Gunning is assessing his options, with interest this season from Rangers and Italian outfit Palermo, and has shone since joining the Tayside club from Blackburn in 2011. Now, the 23-year-old is
nearing the end of his contract with Jackie McNamara’s Scottish Cup finalists but wants to focus on finishing the season on a high.

Gunning said: “It maybe well be my last game at Tannadice. I don’t know. We’ll just have to wait and see.

“I just want to get the cup final out of the way and then speak with my family before making a decision.”

United face Tayside rivals St Johnstone in the final at Celtic Park on 17 May, but Dubliner Gunning is sure they can put their glamour day on the back-burner in order to finish the league campaign with a flurry, starting with tonight’s televised clash with the Dons.

He said: “You look to send the fans away with a good result and then hopefully they will come back next season.

“When it comes to finals, it doesn’t really matter what kind of form you’ve been in before. They’re just mad games. Anything can happen.”

Aberdeen are being pushed all the way by Motherwell for second place in the Premiership.

The Dons lead by a point going into tonight’s clash, with Sunday’s meeting with the
Lanarkshire side at Pittodrie looking like a decider after Aberdeen picked up two points from their first three post-split matches.

Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes said: “I think that was always going to be the chance that that was the case.

“We suffered our first our league defeat in quite a while on Saturday and we’re well aware that draws at this stage of the season, which we’ve had a few of late, won’t always get the job done.

“We feel there are games to be won for us to be totally satisfied with our work this season. Games against Dundee United are always exciting anyway, and the fact that both teams have a lot to play for should be an indication of the type of game it’s going to be. It’s game on.”

He added: “European football will be great to bring back to the club but hopefully now, the one last thing we can go for is to finish the season strongly by finishing in second and that’s incentive enough for anyone.”
The game falls 11 days before United’s William Hill Scottish Cup final date with St Johnstone, but McNamara’s men can seal a European spot before then if they win two games and Motherwell lose twice.

McInnes said: “United’s priority is the Scottish Cup but they have still got an outside chance of Europe through the league so I am sure they will be going for that.

“Any game against Aberdeen is big for them as it is for an Aberdeen player going against Dundee United, so there will be enough to make it competitive.

“Going to Tannadice is one of the toughest fixtures any team can have but it’s one we enjoyed on New Year’s Day and put in a strong performance to win the game.

“I am sure it will be something similar required to try and give us a chance to win this one.”