Dundee United have to make the most of the advantage they have given themselves in the Premiership play-offs.
That’s the view of left-back Callum Booth as he and his team-mates prepare to meet the winner of tomorrow’s quarter-final second leg between Ayr United and Inverness Caley Thistle.
The Tangerines’ two previous attempts at navigating through the end-of-season competition have come up short after third-place finishes.
This time around, however, they’ve got a headstart on their Championship rivals by missing out on the first stage by finishing in second place.
The only two teams to ever make it through the play-offs from the Championship – Hamilton Accies in 2013-14 and Livingston last season – did so after finishing as runners-up.
And Booth says United will do everything in their power to make sure they make that three this time around.
He said: “It’s vital, mentally as well, after a long season not having to prepare for two big play-offs at the quarter-final stage.
“We’ve had a couple of days off to recharge the batteries and come back in and worked hard for the week ahead, eventually knowing who we’ll be playing.
“Mentally and physically, it’s really good to not have to negotiate our way through the quarter-finals.”
Inverness are in the driving seat in their tie with Ayr United, having won 3-1 down at Somerset Park on Tuesday night.
The Honest Men are also still to get the better of their Highland opponents this season and have yet to score at the Caledonian Stadium in two previous attempts.
As has been shown in European football this week, however, leads from a first leg don’t guarantee progression.
Booth, though, says he doesn’t care which side come through tomorrow – it’s all about the Tangerines being ready for Tuesday night.
He said: “I don’t have a preference, both teams have had really good seasons – both would probably have taken a play-off place at the start of the campaign and have done really well.
“We’ve had hard games against both and beaten both so it’ll be tough either way.”
Booth was a regular fixture at left-back for Dundee United’s starting XI in the first half of the season but has had to take a back seat at times recently due to the form of Jamie Robson.
In the past few weeks, manager Robbie Neilson has altered things with Robson used as a left winger to good effect.
With a fellow-full-back in front of him, Booth has enjoyed having a similar style of player to link up with.
Both like to get forward from full-back but both are also able to cover defensively when their counterpart heads up the pitch.
“It’s been working well,” he added.
“I’ve enjoyed having Jamie in front of me.
“For the first part of the season, we were battling out for left-back and now he’s been playing left wing for the last eight or nine games.
“It’s been good and I’ve enjoyed it, I feel we’ve linked up well.
“We are both similar in wanting to get crosses into the box and get wide.
“Jamie has shown good energy levels in getting up and down and I think we complement each other well.
“He can fill in for me when I go forward and vice-versa.
“We’ve a good relationship and long may it continue.”
n Tickets for the home leg of the Premiership play-off semi-final are now on general sale.
Prices are – £15 for adults and £8 for concessions (U/12s, U/18s, O/65s, full-time students and ambulant disabled).