Dundee United No 2 Lee McCulloch is confident hitman Lawrence Shankland will remain at the club for their Premiership adventure.
The Terrors were last week crowned champions, after the SPFL voted to call the season in the lower leagues, and with it a return to Scottish football’s top table after four long years.
Despite the coronavirus shutdown, speculation surrounding sought-after star striker Shankland’s future continued to swirl.
However, McCulloch insists he was delighted to see the 24-year-old say he sees his future at United, with him and his partner Nicole expecting a baby.
“Yeah, I noticed that he said that and, of course, it was nice for everyone at United to see that,” the former Rangers and Wigan man said.
“We all know what can happen (possible transfer) but Lawrence is an honest boy.
“When he says he is happy at a club then you should believe him.
“It tells me that he is content at the moment with things and there is also a baby on the way for him and his partner.
“We, obviously, want to keep him as he is more than a goalscorer to our club. He is also great with the young players and is good to have around the place.”
In fact, Jig’s highlight of the season came when Shankland netted four as United hammered Inverness on opening day.
“The obvious one to choose would be the first Dundee derby when we won 6-2 because that was an incredible night and Tannadice was rocking,” he added.
“However, I can’t get away from that first home match against Inverness Caley Thistle, who we suspected would be one of our toughest rivals.
“It came after a gruelling pre-season and you weren’t sure if the players would click.
“They certainly did click and we felt, as a coaching staff, after that win that we could go on and achieve with that team.
“It was also immediate proof, were it needed, that Shanks would score plenty of goals for us.”
McCulloch also reserved special praise for boss Robbie Neilson and believes the club will be in safe hands in the top-tier next term.
He continued: “I actually think he is years and years ahead of his time when it comes to managing players.
“He really knows how to deal with them and that was apparent throughout the season.
“He knows how to get into their heads, knows how to get a positive reaction from them and knows how to calm them down.
“That isn’t just on match days but from Monday to Friday as well.
“His office door is open to everybody, be it players or coaches, and we have all taken advantage of that and asked him for advice.
“It has been a pleasure to work with him and it will be terrific to do so again in the Premiership.”
Robbie led Hearts to a third-place top-flight finish in 2016 but McCulloch also hopes to draw on his experience at Kilmarnock as they aim for a successful campaign.
“We are in the fortunate position of Robbie having managed in the top flight before, while I have also done so at Kilmarnock.
“I think we will get plenty of respect, both as a club and as a coaching team.
“We will absolutely relish it, pitting our wits against the top sides as regards tactics and selections.
“We do feel, though, we are well equipped to handle it when the new season does start. We will fear nobody.
“United won’t be the big club in the division anymore but we are big enough to make other sides wary of us and will still be seen as a scalp.
“Like we did in the Championship, we must aim to make Tannadice a hard place for other teams to visit because our home form will be central to any success we have next season.”