Dundee United manager Robbie Neilson is looking on the bright side of star man Lawrence Shankland being out injured as key player Peter Pawlett returns to the fold.
Much has been made of Scotland international striker Shankland’s absence after he picked up a thigh injury while away in Cyprus with the national team.
However, league leaders United proved they could cope without Shanks as they dispatched Queen of the South 3-0 at Tannadice a week past Saturday.
They’ll have to do that again when they travel to Greenock to face Morton this weekend.
It is slightly different this time, however, as Robbie is able to call on quality in the form of another pivotal figure in Pawlett.
The former Aberdeen attacker has been out since coming off after just three minutes of United’s 1-0 win over Partick last month with a hamstring problem.
Now, though, it has been confirmed the 28-year-old will make his return to the squad at Cappielow as the Tangerines look to stretch their nine-point lead at the top of the Championship.
Of Shankland’s injury, Robbie said: “It’s just part and parcel of training, it could have happened anywhere.
“To be fair, the kid could probably do with a break anyway, he has done brilliantly for us.
“He has just about played every minute of every game so I am not too concerned.
“It happened in the warm-up in Cyrpus. He did the actual warm-up and everything was fine and then he felt it when they were doing some shooting.
“He spoke to the physios and (Scotland boss) Steve Clarke and they just told him to sit on the bench and that they wouldn’t put him on. They sent him back the next day.
“So they couldn’t have done any more, really.
“He’s had a lot to deal with. We’re going to lose players throughout the season so it’s important we don’t pin our hopes on one individual.
“We missed him last week and still managed to score three goals and put in a great performance.
“Peter Pawlett will be back in the squad soon, so we’re taking Lawrence out and adding Peter, and he has great quality so it will be very much like for like.
“It was good to put the talk to bed, more so externally. People were saying we were missing Lawrence and that would be trouble.
“But although he has done great for us we still have real quality in the team.
“We should have enough for Saturday as well.”
The good news for Arabs is, although the 20-goal hitman will miss out this weekend, Robbie expects him back for the visit of Alloa next time out.
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“I expect him to be back next weekend, to be honest with you.
“He’ll, obviously, not make this weekend but he was running on Monday at a decent pace.
“It’s more of a precaution than anything else, he’s one of our main players.
“So we have to be wary not to rush him back.
“It won’t be weeks, no, definitely not. He could have been ready for the weekend but he’ll definitely be ready for the following weekend.
“And then it’s just a decision over whether we start him or keep him on the bench.
“It was just at the top of the muscle, it wasn’t an actual tear in the muscle.
“So he’s fine. It’s not an issue for us, and that’s not me trying to paint over it or anything.
“The worry is it’s a thigh injury and, say, I pushed him for Saturday and he popped it we could lose him for six weeks, even eight weeks.
“But at this moment in time he should be fine.”