New hitman Shankland set to start in opening Dundee United tie with Hearts

Lawrence Shankland netted against Hearts - his first competitive game for United.
Lawrence Shankland netted against Hearts - his first competitive game for United.

Robbie Neilson has to decide whether or not to hand big summer signing Lawrence Shankland a start in tonight’s Betfred Cup Group A opener at Hearts.

And the chances are the Dundee United gaffer will.

Robbie is well aware, in terms of pre-season training, Shankland was a week-and-a-bit behind the rest of the squad when he joined up last week.

However, he was impressed by the striker’s fitness in last weekend’s two friendlies at Brechin and Dumbarton.

Lawrence Shankland celebrates with Nicky Clark after finding the net against Dumbarton.

And, with Osman Sow a minor doubt for Tynecastle because of a calf issue, it looks odds on the 23-year-old will get the nod.

Even if he doesn’t, Robbie has made no secret of the fact he believes the former Ayr man will have a huge impact at United.

“One of the reasons we recruited Lawrence was because we thought it was important we kill teams off when we have the opportunity,” he said.

“I look back on games like Morton last season when we were 1-0 up, on top and creating chances.

“They get a free-kick in the 88th minute, score from it and we’ve dropped two points.”

Robbie Neilson has a few tough decisions to make regarding his team choice.

United are also set to have midfielder Adam King available after they offered the trialist the chance to become a permanent squad member.

The brother of former Tangerine Billy King, he took part in last weekend’s games and has impressed in training over the past couple of weeks.

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King started out with Hearts before moving south to Swansea City in a £200,000.

Much of his five years with the Welsh club were spent out on loan to the likes of Crewe, Southend and Peterborough.

The other weekend trialist, Pablo Ganet, will not be getting a deal.