Robbie Neilson admits Lawrence Shankland’s latest goal has not helped in their battle to keep him at Dundee United but he is confident the striker will finish the season at Tannadice.
Shankland struck again in yesterday’s 2-2 Scottish Cup draw with Hibernian. As well as helping his side clinch a replay a week tomorrow at Easter Road, the goal will have further alerted suitors to his prowess. Celtic scout Tosh McKinlay was present at Tannadice yesterday a week after Nick Hammond, the Parkhead club’s head of recruitment, watched Shankland at Firhill against Partick Thistle. He scored a hat-trick on that occasion and struck yesterday to take his tally to 25 goals for his club this season. He has also scored once for Scotland.
Queens Park Rangers have also been credited with an interest in the 24-year-old, who signed a three-year deal last summer.
“I hope so and I think so,” said Neilson when asked if he expected Shankland to remain with United after the end of the current transfer window.
But the Dundee United manager also admitted that yesterday “is not going to help us from that side of it”. He added: “I’ve said for a long time that getting promoted is more valuable to us than selling one of our key players. I’m expecting him to be here until the end of the season and what happens beyond that will be dependent on what offers come in.”
Neilson believes the performance against Hibs proves his side can live with the Premiership opposition they are expected to be facing next season. The runaway Championship leaders are currently 17 points clear of second-placed Inverness Caledonian Thistle.
“We spoke about belief before the game,” he said. “You can talk about tactics all day but the players have to believe in each other and believe that they’re going to have enough quality to get a result. There were doubts – people were saying ‘it’s the Championship’.
“I think today will definitely help us in the replay. When we go to Easter Road we need to be at it again. Morton is the next focus, but we want a cup run and we’ll go to Easter Road with our strongest team.”