Dundee United have ‘mental strength to survive’

Dundee United manager Mixu Paatelainen is convinced his side have the strong mentality needed to get out of relegation danger. Paatelainen questioned the team’s desire and work 
ethic when he was appointed in October, just after caretaker boss Dave Bowman had labelled them a “very weak group”.

Billy Mckay will return to his former club for the first time. Picture: SNS

United are now eight points adrift at the foot of the Premiership and have lost five out of their last six games. But Paatelainen feels they have dominated recent games and the Finn has seen no sign of 
fear or lack of confidence in his players ahead of today’s trip to Inverness.

“I think the players have quite a strong mentality because the league table doesn’t look good for us but, when you see the boys train and how they speak and encourage each other and demand from each other, then it’s very good,” Paatelainen said.

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“I don’t know whether it has changed or whether in certain matches it was just poor performances. What I can say is that at the moment our players are strong. They believe we will climb up the table. Everyone realises it won’t be easy, but everyone realises we need to stay patient and calm and do our stuff on the pitch. I think we have a good chance because our game itself is in good nick.”

United striker Billy Mckay returns to his former club today for the first time since moving to Wigan in January following a prolific spell in the Highlands, which yielded 62 goals.

Inverness boss John Hughes is well aware his players need to be on guard against on-loan Mckay, who has scored United’s last 
seven Premiership goals.

“We’ll welcome Billy back with open arms,” Hughes said. “He’s a fans’ favourite, he’s our favourite. He’s a player I really enjoyed working with and he scored some wonderful goals for Inverness. The players know what he is all about and we are going to have to be right on our mettle to keep him quiet.”