There is usually official notification of a team's starting XI around half an hour before kick-off.

When the print outs are passed around at Tannadice tonight the temptation will be to read between the team lines, with Jackie McNamara having been criticised for his selection when Dundee United last played St Johnstone. That was on December 29 and ended in a 3-0 win for the Perth side - a feather in Stevie May's hat trick.

St Johnstone could include James Dunne this evening after the midfielder last night finalised a loan move from Stevenage which will run until the end of the season. There may be more scrutiny on how United line up, though, given that McNamara would stand on the touchline accused of being disrespectful to the same opponents last month.

Loading article content

The United manager had made eight changes to his side, with star turn Ryan Gauld left out of the squad and Stuart Armstrong, John Souttar and Gary Mackay-Steven appearing only as substitutes. Both Gauld and Souttar have returned to Tayside after being sent for a break in Spain and are expected to take their places in the squad this evening.

That could cause Sean Dillon to be placed back on the bench, although the United defender is irked by the focus being placed on how his side will line up. "If you look at it and you say [we] were showing an arrogance by not playing [our] strongest side, then that in itself is having a pop at the players who did play that day," said Dillon.

"I came in at McDiarmid Park and for me that's like saying I'm not one of [United's] better players, or whoever else started the game. The boys who came in against St Johnstone are good players. They are all top players and were good enough to win the game regardless of who they were playing."

That would perhaps be a more convincing case where United to be assisted by a revitalised Gauld. The teenage forward had succumb to faltering form before being sent for a rest in the sun and Dillon is excited by the prospective of seeing Gauld back to his best. "It's great that the manager has done it for the boys," he added.

There are those at St Johnstone just as impressed by the work done by Tommy Wright. The manager has added Dunne to his squad following the acquisition last week of former Scotland striker Chris Iwelumo.

The former was once a youth player with Arsenal and has found himself in Perth trying to brighten his future again, having fallen out of the picture at Stevenage. "There was a managerial change from last season and for whatever reason I've not been getting regular games at Stevenage. It's been very frustrating," said the midfielder.

"We didn't have the best of seasons as a club last year but on a personal level I got the [end-of-season] awards from the fans and the players. But it hasn't been happening for me this season. Now I can put it behind me and kick on.

"I haven't played since before Christmas but I've been training and I'm ready if the manager wants me in the squad for the Dundee United game. I was ready to play at Stevenage and it's the same here."