Dundee United are facing more striking problems for this weekend’s Championship opener at Inverness Caley Thistle.
Sunday saw the Tangerines finish top of their Betfred Cup group as they won a penalty shootout bonus point after an entertaining draw with Dundee at Dens Park.
But manager Ray McKinnon was forced to use winger Paul McMullan as a central striker because of new signing Scott McDonald’s fitness woes and injuries to James Keatings, Patrick N’Koyi and Matty Smith.
He looks certain to have no choice other than to deploy McMullan in the same role on Saturday.
McDonald and Smith are both suspended because of bans carried over from last season, while Keatings is likely to be out for another couple of weeks with damaged ankle ligaments.
Even if N’Koyi recovers from a muscle problem, his lack of training and game time means the best he will do is make the bench.
Just to add to the problems there will also be a change in defence because Mark Durnan is in the same boat as McDonald and Smith.
A big consolation for the manager was McMullan’s performance in the derby success.
“We’ve asked Paul to do a job because of the situation with the other strikers and, until we moved him out wide when Scott McDonald came on, I though he did it very well,” said Ray.
And he’s going into the league campaign after a display at Dens he felt was pleasing and left him relishing the chance to do it all again next week after the teams were paired in the draw for the second round of the Betfred Cup.
“I thought we played some good football and created some good chances. At times we did have to dig in but expected that because I’ve watched Dundee and they are a decent side.
“In the end we’ve come out on top on penalties and to win the group is something we have a right to be satisfied with.
“I would have been happier if the draw for the next round had us at Tannadice but, after Sunday, I think we can go back up to Dens believing we’ve a good chance of progressing.
“It’ll be another hard game but I’m sure our fans will be looking forward to it. We sold out and it’ll be the same again and I know they’ll get right behind us like they did during the whole game.”