Sean Dillon says fixture backlog can help Dundee United recapture spirit of 2010

Sean Dillon is now a player/coach at League Two side Montrose

Another unwanted free Saturday means by the time Dundee United face Livingston a week tonight they could be 17 points adrift of the top of the Championship.

And with their luck this season being what it is, with leaders St Mirren facing Livi tomorrow, even if the gap to the top isn’t extended the one to second place will be.

On top of that the cancellation of this weekend’s scheduled home clash with Dumbarton, because of their continued interest in the Irn-Bru Cup, means Csaba Laszlo’s side are also facing a fixture backlog with three more ties than St Mirren to be negotiated.

As Arabs will remember painfully from last term, a similar situation caused by their going all the way and winning the Irn-Bru, was a major factor in them running out of steam in the play-offs.

A United player then, and now one of those supporters, former skipper Sean Dillon knows that only too well.

Former United captain Sean Dillon won the 2010 Scottish Cup with the Terrors in the midst of a similar fixture backlog the current side are experiencing this year.

But, in typical upbeat fashion, he finds another example of when a late-season backlog was a factor in one of United’s, and his, greatest-ever days.

“You know me, in every situation that arises I will look for the positive,” says the man who is now starring for Montrose.

“So, while it was difficult having so many games last year, I prefer to remember 2010 when it worked in our favour and we won the Scottish Cup.

“It was a bad winter and the fact we had the cup run meant the games were piling up towards the end of the season.

“Then it became a good thing because we got a bit of momentum going and carried it all the way to the final and won. We certainly didn’t look tired that day.

“When the games start coming thick and fast the United lads have to look at it as a chance to pressure St Mirren.

“There will be times when they are playing and no one else other than the opposition is. That means you know that a win closes the gap.

“So, rather than being worried about it and what did or didn’t happen last year, that should be their approach.

“I know some people won’t see it that way and will believe they’re just being realistic but, like I’ve said, it didn’t hamper us in 2010 so there are two ways this can pan out.”

He hopes that means a return to the top flight and, if this season ends with his old and new teams going up, it will be a memorable one.

League Two leaders Montrose head up to Elgin City today six points ahead of second-placed Peterhead and, although the men from the Blue Toon, managed by Tannadice legend Jim McInally, have two games in hand, Sean sees no reason why they can’t stay top.

“We have been going well and we want to stay up there. It won’t be easy and Elgin are the only team we’ve lost to away in the league, but we’ve had some great results.

“Right now we are taking things game by game and if we keep going we can get up.

“Montrose and United promoted would be my perfect season.”

Now part-time, if anything, that means his daily workload has increased since he left United last summer.

As well as studying to be a fully- qualified personal trainer, he’s kept his hand in on the coaching side through his work with the growing Skilz Academy that runs regular sessions for kids of all ages.

“I’m probably busier than ever.

“Going part-time has been a big change, but I do enjoy working with the youngsters at the Skilz Academy and the personal training is a great challenge.”