Dundee United’s team chemistry can give them an edge going into the Premiership next season.
That’s the opinion of the Tangerines’ American midfielder Ian Harkes.
The 25-year-old joined United in January last year and has been taken aback by the close-knit nature of the club.
Harkes is confident that togetherness, on and off the pitch, can see the Terrors go from Championship winners to top-six contenders next term.
“I definitely think it’s possible and it’s good to set these goals,” he said.
“They might seem ambitious but we have a good group that wants to fight.
“We saw glimpses of it that we could hold our own against Hibs in the Scottish Cup.
“Obviously, the second leg didn’t go as well. A lot of that was individual mistakes on our part and things we just have to tighten up and get better at.
“There’s a lot of teams in the top flight we can compete with but we know it’s going to be a big challenge.
“I’m not saying it’s going to be easy to jump into the top six or European football.
“There could be a long way to go but I know, if we keep building, the group is ambitious and, hopefully, we can give it a go.”
Harkes is currently in Virginia with his family, including fiancee and Celtic Women’s player Sarah Teegarden, amid the coronavirus lockdown.
He is enjoying being by their side more than usual but insists his bond with the team back in Dundee remains strong.
“We still have Zoom calls every once and a while,” Harkes added.
“It’s a little earlier with the time difference here but I’m still getting up and talking.
“We’re on the group chat, too, and staying in touch that way.
“I think we’re all just waiting, like the rest of the world, so we’ll have to see what happens.
“Myself and my missus have both settled in really well with the group.
“I’ve enjoyed it coming over. It’s been almost a year and a half I’ve been at the club and it’s been a really close group.
“We help each other on and off the pitch. That’s a good sign of a successful club so, hopefully, we can build on that.”
As Covid-19 brought the campaign to a shuddering halt, United found success in winning the league.
Harkes says it was strange not being able to finish their fixtures and celebrate the title in a traditional manner.
However, he insists all their focus is on achieving more success when the action returns as they aim to get the club “back to where it belongs”.
Harkes continued: “It was a strange way to end it, obviously, but we had the goal in our minds to get promoted after losing in the play-offs last year and we got that done.
“We were ahead the whole year which was great.
“We definitely, as a club, all know it’s going to be a big challenge stepping back up there but I think we have a good group and can compete and hold our own.”