Osman can Sow the seeds for a successful Dundee United promotion bid

© SNSLewis Smith of Ayr takes on Dundee United's Osman Sow earlier this year.
Lewis Smith of Ayr takes on Dundee United's Osman Sow earlier this year.

He’s had 10 clubs in 12 years and often has not stayed in one place for too long.

But if, at 29, Osman Sow is ready to hang around in the one place for a prolonged period, it could prove a major boost to Dundee United’s hopes of automatic promotion in the coming season.

And the fact he’s teamed up again with Robbie Neilson at Tannadice has to be encouraging, both in terms of how long he’ll stay and the goals he could get.

It was the two years the big Swede spent working with the Tangerines gaffer at Hearts that were the most productive of his career to date.

During that period he averaged a goal just a whisker short of every two games. Although fans were bitterly disappointed when he left for Chinese outfit Henan Jianye, the £1 million the Jambos picked up for a man they’d signed on a free transfer represented excellent business, particularly given their financial difficulties at the time.

Like several of his other moves, the switch to China did not last long and, after a brief loan spell with Emirates in the UAE, he was back in Britain and linking up with his old Tynecastle boss at MK Dons.

Injuries hampered his spell there but it meant once he’d returned to Scotland and Tannadice in January, Neilson was able to move for Sow to team up with him for a third time.

As he battled for fitness, it would be a slow start. Fitness continued to be an issue and that limited him to just 12 appearances in the closing months of the campaign, during which he scored just once.

Sow, though, has been hard at work since the first day of pre-season training and the coaching staff at Tannadice believe he can, and will, be a big player in the months ahead.

“The ability he’s got and the attributes he’s got, he should really be, if injury free, scoring goals and causing defences lots of problems,” said Lee McCulloch, who worked extensively with Sow last term as striker coach and is continuing to do so now he’s stepped up to the post of joint-assistant manager.

“Hopefully, he can stay injury free and do that. It’s all about managing him in his training.

“He’s more than capable of getting 20-plus goals and you’ve got Nicky Clark as well. If he can stay injury-free there’s another 20-plus striker.”

United are in the market for another striker and have made a lucrative offer to Lawrence Shankland, late of Ayr United. That should not, however, be taken as a sign of a lack of faith in the quality of Sow or the chances of him being able to play in most of the coming games.

Likewise, whether it’s Shankland or another front man who is added to the squad in the next few weeks, Clark is another member of the front line who remains a valued member of the squad.

He opened his account for the new football term when he grabbed the equaliser in the opening pre-season friendly over at East Fife last weekend.

That ability not just to score regularly but at vital moments, makes him a big part of the plans.

Almost half his 15 goals last term were winners or in games that were won by a single goal and that’s a stat the coaching staff are well aware of.

“Clarkie is a natural goalscorer, probably the most natural scorer we’ve got in the squad,” added McCulloch.

“Osman’s got a bit of pace and he’s got a presence. He will score goals but I see Clarkie as our main natural goalscorer.

“Nicky scores important goals and that’s what we need. That’s a big complement to his mentality.

“He is a big-game player. He has a decent CV, has played at some big clubs, has been down in England and played.”