Tangerines’ new creative men please manager Ray

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The pre-season performances of his attacking players has increased Dundee United boss Ray McKinnon’s determination to add at least one more centre-forward to his squad.

Arabs needn’t sweat, though, because that’s good news.

While he’s very much of the school that believes in judging players when the real ball comes out with the start of competitive matches, Ray admits he’s been excited by the way the men he’s already brought in this summer — and others — have been shaping up.

“I have been very pleased by what I’ve seen since the players reported back for pre-season,” he said.

“James Keatings, Billy King and Paul McMullan have come in and hit the ground running straight away.

“They are looking good and I have to say, now he’s fit again, Scott Fraser has been flying as well.

“Scott started a wee bit later than the rest because we wanted to make sure his broken foot had healed completely.

“I know he came on in a couple of the play-off games at the end of last season and that was because he’d been given the all clear by the doctors but he wasn’t entirely comfortable.

“Now he’s looking fine and, when we beat Blackpool in Friday’s closed-door game, which was a real stiff test for us, he was very sharp.”

Dundee United new boys Paul McMullan and James Keatings have been shaping up well in pre-season games and training ahead of the new campaign which kicks off against Raith Rovers on Saturday

Likewise, the gaffer has been very impressed by the new men he’s brought in to increase the overall goal threat for his team.

“I signed Keatings, King and McMullan because I already knew they were good players who can create and take chances, so in that sense I’ve not been surprised by what I’ve seen from them.

“But I have still been very impressed with the way they’ve settled in, their fitness and the quality of their work in training and our three build-up games.

“They are good types to have about the place day-to-day and it feels like they’ve been part of things for longer than just a few weeks.

“In the end it’s what happens on the park that matters but I have always been a believer that a good dressing-room goes a long way to getting good results.

“Their fitness has been excellent as well and I’m pleased about that because they did have a longer break than the players who were already here from last season.

“And in the three games we’ve had, they’ve looked very good on the park. I’ve been happy with the number of chances we’ve been creating and a lot of that has been down to them.

“Again the ability they have to create in the final third was a big part of why I worked to bring them in and so far they’ve not disappointed me.

“Between them they will score a few goals and that goes for Keatings in particular.

“I still feel we need another experienced striker for right up top to make sure we make the most of the supply of chances that’s going to come from their play.”

Ray is not forgetting the man he’s already signed to play right at the top end of the pitch — Dutchman Partick N’Koyi. His pre-season only started when he was signed up last week but his gaffer is convinced he can provide a regular supply of goals. What he doesn’t want is the onus to be on one striker to fulfil that role.

“Patrick’s looking good but he is a bit behind the rest in terms of fitness and that’s something we’re working on at the moment.

“His movement is good and he definitely has an eye for goal but the plan all along has been to bring in two experienced strikers and maybe even a younger one as well.”