Dundee United head coach Robbie Neilson believes that victory on Saturday against Partick Thistle will put Sunday’s Scottish Cup disappointment to bed as the club look to win promotion from the Scottish Championship.
United suffered defeat in disappointing circumstance as Inverness Caledonian Thistle sealed a Scottish Cup semi-final with a late goal at Tannadice. Neilson, whilst disappointed to exit the cup, is now focused entirely on the league campaign.
“Obviously we were bitterly disappointed not to go through,” he said.
“The way we lost with a 94th minute goal was tough to take, but the main focus, as it has always been this season, is on the league.
“So, it now means that we know what the fixtures are, we know what we need to do, and we can focus on that.
The United boss believes that competition for promotion is fierce which makes it hard to see any side winning every game between now and the end of the season.
“I think there is going to be a lot of twists and turns in this league,” he said.
“Believe me, there is a lot of good teams, even the teams sitting at the bottom just now will still have a thought that they can possibly get to the play-offs because it is so tight.
“Every game you play is going to be very difficult no matter whether you are playing top of the league or bottom of the league.
“I don’t see anyone going on a consistent run all the way through and winning every game.
“Whoever can put together probably two good runs will give themselves a right good chance of winning it.”
Despite the team suffering such a disappointing loss at the weekend, Neilson does not believe it will mean a loss of confidence within the players themselves.
“There have been knocks previously as well,” he said.
“It has been how we’ve responded to it, and there will be more knocks towards the end of the season as well.
“As I say, nobody is going to win every single game.
“It is who can respond quickly and get back on it again, and we have proven in previous situations that we are very good at doing that.”
United visit Firhill on Saturday with Gary Caldwell’s men coming off the back of a 1-1 draw in Monday night’s Scottish Cup quarter final game against Hearts. With Thistle fighting to stay in the Scottish Championship and United looking to win it, Neilson sees this game, like every game, as a test of character for his players.
“I think every game is a character test when you play at Dundee United,” he said.
“You have to go perform, you have to win every single game and you get tested when you don’t win.
“We had a difficult result on Sunday, now we get back on it again and if we can get a result this Saturday then last Sunday is put to bed and we move on to the next one.
“We’ve got strong characters in the team.
“We’ve got guys who have been in this situation before, pressure games, and they’ve come through it.”
With United needing to rack up points in the title chase, Neilson is in no mood to underestimate Partick Thistle despite the Glasgow side currently sitting at the foot of the table. In fact, the United gaffer believes the Jags will see this Saturday’s game as vital not only in staving off relegation, but also seeking a possible promotion play-off place.
“Gary (Caldwell) has recruited very well in the January window and they have had a turn of fortune,” he said.
“Their issue is that Falkirk and Alloa have as well.
“It is so tight at the bottom of the league and I think they are five points off Queen of the South who probably about three or four weeks ago I think were sitting fourth place in the league, so it shows how quickly it can turn.
“I’m pretty sure Gary will be looking at it, as will Ray (McKinnon) and Jim (Duffy) at Alloa and thinking they have still got a chance of getting into the play-offs.
“So, they know and we know that this game is vital for both teams.”
Meanwhile, United have no fresh injury concerns ahead of the game on Saturday, however Peter Pawlett will miss out due to suspension. Calum Butcher returns following his suspension.