Dundee Utd V Aberdeen at Tannadice Park : Match Preview

01 March 2016
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Billy McKay praises Paul Paton's passion as Dundee United prepare for Dons visit

Dundee United striker Billy McKay feels they can beat anyone with Paul Paton in their side.

The midfielder has scored in consecutive victories over Hearts and Ross County as the Ladbrokes Premiership bottom club revived their flagging hopes of survival ahead of the clash with Aberdeen.

United have won more games (five) in the eight weeks Paton has been back in the team - following knee surgery - than they did during his nine-month lay-off.

Speaking ahead of Wednesday's visit of the Dons, McKay said: "He's been massive. The results have changed when he's come into the team.

"I have played against him before and I know what type of player he is. He plays full on in every game and puts 100 per cent passion into every game. You need that in the situation we are in.

"He has come in and been brilliant and obviously chipped in with a few goals. When you have him on your side, no matter what game it is, you feel you have a chance of winning it."

Manager Mixu Paatelainen echoed McKay's thoughts on the influence of the 28-year-old midfielder.

"Massive," Paatelainen said. "Absolute man mountain. The way he talks, the way he carries himself on and off the pitch, he really boosts players' confidence around him.

"On the pitch we all know he's a ball-winner, he's a match-winner. He is so full-hearted. He has been very, very important and we want to make sure he stays fit."

McKay admits confidence was a major problem earlier in the season but 10 points from five games, and the wins over Hearts and Ross County especially, have given the team a huge morale boost as they prepare to face Aberdeen.

The Northern Ireland striker said: "I think there is a belief. We have beaten teams in the top six so we feel we can go anywhere and get a result.

"We don't have Celtic to play again and we feel we can beat any other team in the league.

"If you look at our recent performances before we went on this run, they were very good. But we just have a belief about us now.

"It's just a bit of belief in the changing room that we can do it and with the points (deficit) coming down and down, it's going to help that belief."

Dons boss Derek McInnes insists his side are not feeling sorry for themselves despite losing Adam Rooney for the next six weeks.

The Pittodrie striker has been ruled out until mid-April after suffering a thigh injury on the eve of Saturday's clash with St Johnstone.

And the loss of their 19-goal top-scorer has already hit the Reds' Premiership title hopes after they failed to capitalise on Celtic's Friday night slip-up at Hamilton as they were also held to a 1-1 draw by Saints.

But McInnes is not wasting any time wishing he still had the Irishman available, and instead challenged Simon Church to add to the goal he struck against Tommy Wright's Perth outfit at the weekend after handing him the responsibility of leading Aberdeen's attack.

McInnes said: "What do you do when you lose key players? You either roll up and feel sorry for yourself and have a victim's mentality, thinking, 'Poor us, poor us' - or you see it as someone else's opportunity.

"I'm delighted we've got Simon Church on the books. He's got two goals in four games and if he can keep that ratio up he will be doing well.

"It's the sort of thing we've been used to with Adam and of course we'd rather have Adam fit. There's not many teams - if any - who wouldn't want him in their side.

"But we will have to deal with it, as we have before. We've had to come to terms with it on Thursday when we realised he wasn't going to be available for us.

"We have to make sure that little things like injuries, pitches being poor or referees' decisions don't stop us doing what we want to do.

"We've got 11 games left and it's important we demonstrate how much those 33 points mean to us."

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