El Alagui keen to mix with United young guns

FARID El Alagui last night spoke of his delight at being back in Scotland as he aims to be a hit at Dundee United.

John Souttar, Ryan Dow, Gavin Gunning and Ryan Gauld are all smiles as they watch Stuart Armstrong in training. Picture: SNS
John Souttar, Ryan Dow, Gavin Gunning and Ryan Gauld are all smiles as they watch Stuart Armstrong in training. Picture: SNS

The Tannadice new boy is raring to go after signing for Jackie McNamara’s men on loan from Brentford until the end of the season and is in line to make his debut in tomorrow’s televised clash away to Inverness.

United staved off interest from SPFL rivals St Johnstone and Ross County to land the 28-year-old French forward and El Alagui, who had a successful stint at Falkirk before heading south to Brentford in 2012, insists he is all fired up to make an instant impact.

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El Alagui said: “It’s great to be back in Scottish football. When I drove up on Thursday I had a big smile on my face as I drove across the border from England into Scotland after my time here before.

“I think Dundee United are a really good club in Scotland and everyone knows about them. I played against them when I was at Falkirk and I thought they were a really good team. That’s why I chose them.

“When you are a footballer and you don’t play then you feel like something is missing. The main thing for you is playing football so it’s difficult when you can’t do that and I feel hungry to play and with a little bit of a point to prove.

“At Brentford, I got injured in my first season for five or six months and, when I returned, a few strikers were already playing so it was hard to get back in front of them. That’s fair enough.

“The injury was a big setback but I feel fit now and ready to start on Sunday against Inverness.”

El Alagui is relishing playing alongside United’s rising stars who have lit up the Scottish top flight for much of this season and admits their ability to carve out openings swayed him on a transfer window move to Tannadice.

He said: “I know all about the young Dundee United players. I actually watched a few clips of highlights on the internet and on Sky Sports and I was impressed with the talent and the attacking football.

“Once I knew I was moving to Dundee United then I watched more highlights to see the type of football they play and make sure I know what I’m coming to. Ryan Gauld is a good player and so is Gary Mackay-Steven but there are others.

“I’m sure they will create chances for me and that is one of the main reasons I decided to come here – playing in an attacking team was the deciding factor.

“If things work out well here and people are pleased with me then we can definitely talk about extending things. My contract at Brentford is up in June.”

United striker Nadir Ciftci is struggling to shake off a groin injury for the trip north, while full-back Mark Wilson will be missing in the Highlands due to a stomach muscle tear.

McNamara is excited about locking horns with former Celtic team-mate John Hughes, who will be his opposite number in the Inverness dug-out.

He said: “John Hughes will still be trying to find his way at Inverness. He’ll try and impose his philosophy there. We all know Yogi likes to play football. I played under him at Falkirk and really enjoyed my time there.

“I’m sure he’ll do that there. It will take him a bit of time, he’s got the nucleus there of a decent side and he’ll want to try and maintain what they’ve done so far this season. He’s got a different style and he’ll have his own thoughts. He’s trying to get Russell Latapy in as his assistant and I know him well from my time at Falkirk and he’s a really good lad as well.”

Hughes, meanwhile, is looking to get the monkey off his back with his first home win as Inverness manager.

Hughes replaced Terry Butcher at the start of December and signed a two-and-a-half year deal with the Highland club. Amid a mixed start to his Caley career, he has yet to savour victory in front of his own support – losing to Aberdeen, Celtic and rivals Ross County.

“We have been working really hard this week. The players have been great in training and we can take that into the game and make sure that the three points are staying in Inverness,” said Hughes.

“It would be nice to get my first home win. But I can’t ask any more of the boys in what they are giving me in effort and commitment and, at times, we have been playing good football.

“At times we have been possibly trying too hard and leaving ourselves open to counter attacks, resulting in giving ourselves too much to do to win the game. So we can correct that and get back to winning ways.”

Hughes was boosted by the news this week that Carl Tremarco and Danny Williams have signed extended contracts at the club.

The new deals for left-back Tremarco, 28, and midfielder Williams, 25, who moved to the Highland club in the summer, will run until June 2016.

The former Falkirk and Hibernian boss said: “There has been a lot of planning since I came to the club. I feel we work with a small squad and Danny can play in a number of positions.

“At this moment in time, he is playing in the middle of the field, sitting and holding, and is getting better. He is a better footballer than I first thought when I came to the club, technically very good.

“Carl wears his heart on his sleeve. He is tough as teak and has a real appreciation of being a professional footballer and he wants to enjoy every minute of it and you cannot buy that. So I am absolutely delighted with these two guys.”