Saturday, 23 January 2016 at 15:00 GMT / 15:00 UK / 20:30 IST
Tannadice Park, Dundee
Desperate Dundee United need things to start turning around fast if they are to beat the drop and they’ll be targeting the visit of second-bottom Kilmarnock as a potential six-pointer.
United are cut a huge fourteen points adrift in the basement and are in real danger of being giving up the ghost. If they are to pull off a great escape – and to be honest, if they do it will be one of the greatest EVER, then they need to start putting points on the board -starting with this game.
If United can’t beat the sides that have been sucked down into the relegation play-off zone, then they could find themselves down by the time the snow has melted in the Highlands.
The Tannadice outfit should be boosted by the returns of striker Florent Sinima-Pongolle and defender Paul Patton from injury while Guy Demel and Mark Durnan have served suspensions and are due back available for selection to the squad. That should at least give boss Mixu Paatelainen options as he works on the side in training this week.
But with only two points picked up in their last nine games, Paatelainen’s side look doomed to playing Championship football next season. They were comprehensively beaten by leaders Celtic 4-1 at home last weekend and although they were only beaten by the odd goal by both Hearts and Dundee in the two prior to that, they have to start winning games if they are going to stay up. Obviously.
Killie eased some of the pressure with a 2-1 success over Inverness Caley Thistle last weekend that moved them level on points with Hamilton and Partick Thistle as the pressure cranks up on who will be occupying that relegation play-off spot come May.
The win over Caley Thistle, thanks to goals from Greg Kiltie and a superb Craig Slater volley, was only Gary Locke’s teams second victory in eleven League games, so it was some welcome at Rugby Park and you can be sure that the players breathed a huge sigh of relief at the final whistle.
They now have to roll their sleeves up and do it all again at Tannadice with a victory surely heaping more pressure not only on the basement side, but the teams around them. To be fair, even Ross County must be looking over their shoulder at the results below them – and they’re in fifth spot, so tight is the SPL this season with just six points separating them from Killie.
The mid-table safety zone is constantly shifting and no side can rest on their laurels with anyone capable of beating anyone else – but Locke will want to ensure that his players can rest easy on Saturday night.
With top scorer Josh Magennis and full-back Steven Smith back from suspension, he can also shuffle his pack for the basement battle.
Dundee United Recent Form DLDLLL
Kilmarnock Recent Form LLWLDW
05/12/2015 Kilmarnock 1 Dundee United 1
12/09/2015 Dundee United 1 Kilmarnock 2
14/02/2015 Kilmarnock 3 Dundee United 2
22/11/2014 Dundee United 3 Kilmarnock 1
03/10/2014 Kilmarnock 2 Dundee United 0
Dundee United (3-4-1-2) – Kawashima, McGowan, Dillon, Gunning, Spittal, Souttar, Rankin, Dixon, Fraser, Murray, Riski.
Kilmarnock (4-2-3-1) –MacDonald, Syme, Ashcroft, Balatoni, McHattie, Slater, Smith, Kiltie, Frizzell, Obadeyi, Magennis.
Dundee United: Dow (inj), Morris (inj).
Kilmarnock: Johnston (inj), O’Hara (inj), McCulloch (inj).
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