Peter Pawlett to miss Betfred opener against Hearts, in blow to Dundee United

United's Peter Pawlett is comforted by a fan after the play-off disappointment against St Mirren.
United's Peter Pawlett is comforted by a fan after the play-off disappointment against St Mirren.

Dundee United don’t expect to have attacker Peter Pawlett back in time for next week’s Betfred Cup opener at Premiership Hearts.

The former Aberdeen man finished last season taking injections in a knee in order to keep playing as the Tangerines took part in the promotion play-offs.

And the problem was still hindering him when the players reported back for pre-season a week ago.

Initially, United thought it would clear in time for that opening competitive fixture at Tynecastle but, although the 28-year-old has been able to do some running, they’ve been told he will be out a week or two longer.

Calum Butcher, Ian Harkes and Argentine new boy Adrian Sporle, who all also missed the opening pre-season friendly at East Fife on Saturday, will be involved in this weekend’s double header against Brechin and Dumbarton.

However, it’s likely to be around the time of the Hearts clash on Friday week before Pawlett is ready to resume full training and his lack of work so far will rule him out.

“Harkes and Butcher will do a full week’s training and be available for Friday but Peter will probably be a couple of weeks after that,” said boss Robbie Neilson.

“He’s still feeling the effects of the injury he got in the play-off. We hoped it would have cleared up but the feedback we’ve got is it will probably be another two or three weeks before he’s ready.”

Full-back Sporle missed the 1-1 draw at New Bayview after feeling muscle tightness towards the end of a hard first week in Scotland and was not risked against the Fifers.

“Adrian trained on Friday morning and towards the end of the session he began to feel a wee bit tight in his thigh and his calf,” explained Robbie.

“He’s travelled halfway round the world and then come straight into a tough few days training, so it was not worth the risk for the sake of 45 minutes and he will be OK for this weekend.”

As for Saturday’s runout, Robbie was pleased to see his players get back in action after their summer break.

“It was about getting the cobwebs outs of their legs, as many as possible getting 45 minutes and avoiding injury and we did that. So it was good.”