Ross County V Dundee Utd at Victoria Park : Match Preview

26 February 2016
Ross County V Dundee Utd - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

Ross County's Michael Gardyne not ready to write off old team Dundee United yet

Michael Gardyne reckons his old Dundee United colleagues can save their Ladbrokes Premiership status - by copying the escape act his Ross County side performed 12 months ago.

The Staggies looked doomed to relegation at the start of 2015 last term when they dropped six points behind the rest of the pack.

But a run of eight wins and a draw fired Jim McIntyre's men up the table and they eventually finished eight points clear of trouble.

Gardyne's former Tannadice team-mates look in just as much trouble this season, with an 11-point gap separating the bottom-dogs from 11th-placed Kilmarnock.

But Mixu Paatelainen's team appear to have found some fight at last after being stung by chairman Stephen Thompson's rebuke last week.

They claimed a surprise 2-1 win over Hearts on Saturday and now Gardyne believes that can be the launch pad the Tangerines need to rescue their season.

The forward - whose side host United on Saturday - said: "It's incredible the situation they find themselves in. I don't really know what's going on there. The main thing for them though is they can't concentrate on what has happened before - it's about what they do from now on that matters.

"We were in their situation last season and it was about February time that we turned it around by going on a nine-game unbeaten streak.

"There is no reason why they can't do the same thing. They have got a great opportunity to go win games as it's teams who are round about them who they will be playing, both now and after the split.

"I know the guys in that dressing room and they are capable of producing something similar. They have got talented players, they have got grafters and they have got good characters."

Saturday's duel is the first of two clashes with United for County either side of Tuesday's league clash with Kilmarnock.

Their second meeting with the Taysiders next weekend is a William Hill Scottish Cup quarter-final, while the big match action does not rest there with the tantalising prospect of the League Cup final showdown with Hibernian also coming into view on March 13.

But Gardyne insists none of the Highlanders squad are looking beyond Saturday's match as they aim to secure the top-six slot they have eyed all season.

"It's been easy just to focus on the league with the way the coaching staff have dealt with things," he said.

"Everything is geared up towards the game at the weekend - so it doesn't really give you a chance to think about the matches further down the line.

"We want to win as many games as possible to make sure we're in that top six.

"That's what the manager targeted at the start of the season and it would be devastating if we weren't in it."

United boss Mixu Paatelainen is also hoping to copy County's blueprint.

"They are a good example of what can be done through hard work," Paatelainen said.

"I want to pay compliment to the players and coaching staff. Jim has done a fantastic job there.

"We know exactly how they felt last season. They used their opportunity, after a couple of victories they used their momentum and confidence to stay up. It was a tremendous achievement.

"And the way they have gone forward from that this season, they are in the top six at the moment, the League Cup final, the quarter-final of the Scottish Cup. After last season's dangers they have really gone forward. It's a great example."

Meanwhile, Paatelainen explained the thinking behind last Saturday's pre-match show of solidarity among the players, which was similar to the Celtic huddle.

"It wasn't a huddle, it was a cuddle," he said. "Dundee United do a cuddle not a huddle, just to make that clear.

"Assistant head coach Gordon Young suggested to the players they should do something like that and that's what they did. Because the unity is there, the squad is fantastic, the boys really pull together and I think it's good to show that out there."

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