Dundee Utd V St Johnstone at Tannadice Park : Match Preview

20 November 2015
Dundee Utd V St Johnstone - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

Dundee United hope to have Gavin Gunning available to face St Johnstone

Dundee United boss Mixu Paatelainen hopes to re-sign defender Gavin Gunning in time for Saturday's Ladbrokes Premiership visit of St Johnstone.

The former Republic of Ireland youth international has impressed the Tannadice boss after a successful trial period and Paatelainen is now hoping international clearance can be rushed through to allow the 24-year-old to face Tommy Wright's Saints.

Gunning made 99 appearances for United over the course of three seasons after signing from Blackburn in 2011.

He turned down the offer of a new Terrors deal in the summer of 2014 as he clinched a move to Birmingham. But he played just once for the Blues after tearing knee ligaments on his debut, with St Andrew's manager Gary Rowett ripping up his contract at the end of last season.

A short stint with Oldham at the start of the current campaign failed to produce a longer deal but Paatelainen believes the former Motherwell man can boost the basement boys' relegation fight.

Confirming a deal to the end of the season had been agreed, the boss said: "Everything should be done soon. He'll be available for selection against St Johnstone provided international clearance comes through, which it should. I'm looking forward to working with Gavin.

"I'm sure you all know how aggressive and how good on the ball he is as a defender.

"I know he has had some big injury problems recently but he is fully fit now and he is really motivated to get back to the best level that he can.

"He hasn't played too many matches recently though so I don't think he's 100 per cent fit but he strengthens our defensive department."

Aside from being hopeful on Gunning, Paatelainen will be able to call on the services of Aidan Connolly as the midfielder completes his return from suspension.

However, striker Mario Bilate has now been released by the club while Dargo Bodul (groin), Chris Erskine (pelvis), Paul Paton (knee), Ryan Dow (groin) and Callum Morris (calf) are all ruled out.

Yet despite the injury problems, the Finnish manager has been backed to steer the club out of the relegation zone by St Johnstone midfielder Murray Davidson.

But the Scotland cap is determined the recently-appointed Tannadice manager endures the same derby misery as his predecessor, Jackie McNamara.

Perth boss Tommy Wright has engineered seven wins and a draw in the last eight clashes between the Tayside neighbours.

While United are stuck at the bottom, fourth-placed Saints are chasing a sixth successive away win to break Paul Sturrock's club record, which was set 19 years ago in the old First Division.

They will have to do so without suspended midfielder Liam Craig but Chris Millar is pressing for a starting place following a hamstring problem.

Elsewhere, forward Graham Cummins is ruled out with a hamstring injury and Simon Lappin is still recovering from groin surgery.

Davidson said: "I have been surprised at the start United have made to the season because in the last four or five years they have been one of the main teams in the top six.

"But like any team if you lose a lot of good players like United have then it can be very difficult to replace them.

"But they have still got talent in their squad and we know they will come out fighting.

"They have brought in a new manager and I am sure United will be fine once he gets his ideas across to the players."

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