Dundee United will face Championship leaders St Mirren at Tannadice this afternoon with first-team coach Laurie Ellis still in charge of the side.
Ellis has been running the ship since Ray McKinnon was relieved of his duties in the aftermath of the 2-0 defeat by Inverness Caledonian Thistle a fortnight ago and secured a 2-0 win at Dumbarton last weekend in his first game in charge.
Jim McIntyre and Alan Stubbs have been linked strongly with the manager’s position and an appointment by chairman Stephen Thomson is finally expected on Monday. However, it is not expected to involve either the ex-Ross County manager or former Hibs boss.
A combination of the contract on offer being only until the end of the season as well as restrictions on the recruitment on players and coaching staff appears to have ruled the duo out.
The race now appears to be between former Hearts manager Csaba Laszlo and John Hughes, who bossed Falkirk and Hibs before winning the Scottish Cup with Inverness Caley Thistle and then had a miserable time with a Raith Rovers side who were relegated last season.
Both candidates were contacted yesterday and advised that a final decision was coming soon, however it would not be made before today’s game, with Monday having been pencilled in as D-day.
Ellis has quietly gone about his enhanced duties and is determined that United grab another win. “The players did really well at Dumbarton last weekend and deserved to win,” he explained. “We will need the same level of commitment, as well as a lot of other qualities, to get something from a good St Mirren side.
“They are at the top of the league for a reason and we need to handle the threat that they pose. I have had a good reaction since I stepped up and it would be terrific to keep that going with a good performance and win in this game.”
Ellis has a full squad to choose from apart from the injured pair of Lewis Toshney and Jordie Briels.
Paisley assistant manager James Fowler reckons that the managerial drama could actually help the hosts. “We cannot get drawn into what is going on at Tannadice as we simply have to concentrate on ourselves,” he said.
“There are players there who will see this game as a chance to show that they have a future at a big club so we need to be ready to face a motivated squad.
“They may not have a manager in place, but they have a very good coach in place with Laurie taking things. Both Laurie and the players will have taken a boost by winning at Dumbarton last weekend and will be well up for this game.
“There could also be somebody watching from the stands that needs impressing, so we will not be facing a dispirited outfit. We had a great 3-0 success over them earlier in the season and it would be great to something similar, but a win by any margin would be a good day’s work.”
The Saints were held 2-2 by Renfrewshire neighbours Morton last weekend, however Fowler reckons that it should be viewed as a point earned. “We were better in the first half, but the second half was more even.” he said. “The point keeps us bobbing along. It was a derby full of incident and we picked something up in it, so we can look forward to this one.”
Goalkeeper Ross Stewart and Adam Eckersley are available after knocks, however Gary Irvine, Harry Davis, Gary Mackenzie and Josh Todd remain out injured.