Fitness issues could delay Dundee United derby team decision

McKinnon is unlikely to risk defender Durnan.
McKinnon is unlikely to risk defender Durnan.

A string of fitness issues means Ray McKinnon may be forced to delay his derby team selection.

The Dundee United boss has no major worries for Sunday’s Betfred Cup tie at Dens Park, but has doubts over some players.

And the lack of match fitness for the likes of new signing Scott McDonald and midfielder Willo Flood, who’s only just returned to training after injury, means Ray must decide when, or if, he can use them.

The main injury concern is centre-half Mark Durnan.

He missed last weekend’s win over Cowdenbeath with a strain high on his hip and lower back.

His condition isn’t causing too much concern but, with the league opener at Inverness Caley Thistle now just a week or so away, Ray is reluctant to take any chances.

A couple of other players have also been getting treatment for minor knocks, so it could be Sunday lunch time before the team is confirmed.

Dundee United captain Tam Scobbie.

McDonald is lacking match fitness and looks more likely to be on the bench.

After his goal against Cowdenbeath, that would leave the door open for 20-year-old Matty Smith to start.

Flood, meanwhile, has been back in full training this week and some game time on Sunday could have him in contention for a start at Inverness.

Definitely missing because of injuries will be Cammy Bell, James Keatings, Patrick N’Koyi and Stewart Murdoch.

As an offshoot of all those issues, defender Tam Scobbie is set to skipper the side again.

Although the 29-year-old only signed up this summer, Ray views him as a natural wearer of the arm-band, if required.

“I like the fact Tam talks and he has good experience. He’s played in the Premiership for a long time and knows the levels we have to reach to get there.

“You need a good voice at the back and Tam gives us that, as well as his ability.

“With Cammy Bell and Willo Flood not playing so far, it was an obvious choice to go for Tam and he’s led the team well.

“I’m not saying it’s a permanent thing and we’ll see where we go with that, however whether or not he’s captain, Tam’s always a leader on the park.”