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Chance to make amends for poor display

MARC McAUSLAND, the St Mirren defender, was refreshingly frank in assessing the display that left him stranded on the bench for his side's defeat at Motherwell last week.

Marc McAusland is hoping to regain his position in defence
Marc McAusland is hoping to regain his position in defence

It had come seven days before, in a similarly comprehensive defeat at Aberdeen.

"It was my worst performance of the season," he admitted. "It was a poor game from myself. It's his decision at the end of the day and he's the manager so I can't really argue. I didn't play anywhere near like I can."

He did feel a little aggrieved, though, for prior to that game he had been part of a side that had lost only once in a sequence of 10 matches to climb the table. It was put to him that it may have been a little unfair to exclude someone based on one below-par display. "That was my argument with the gaffer, but we'll leave that for another day," he said, laughing. "You need to try to get that consistency up. My levels dropped and that's why I wasn't in."

Danny Lennon's contract is up at the end of the season and McAusland's father is one of the directors at the club. Bearing in mind he has just been dropped, might the defender put in a word for his manager with the old man? "Not right now, no!" he grinned.

Regardless, if the defender is brought back in to the team this afternoon, he will certainly have ample opportunity to produce a display worthy of impressing his manager. This Dundee United attack is anything but toothless, and the Tannadice club find themselves in a lofty second place in the SPFL Premiership. "They're playing well and scoring a lot of goals," said McAusland. "They're the form team in the league with the players and standard they're bring every game.

"Them and Celtic are the teams you'd try to avoid over the Christmas period. At the same time, it's good to come back because you want to test yourself against the best players and right now in terms of attacking, they're definitely up there with Celtic. The way they move about and interchange is frightening. They're just young boys, but there are five who can change about and know their jobs that well they can rip teams apart."

Jackie McNamara, though, still believes that his side face a tough task in breaking down the St Mirren defence in Paisley this afternoon. "We will have every respect for St Mirren," he said. "They like to get the ball down and play like ourselves so it should be open in that respect. We're on a good run of form right now but we know what St Mirren are capable of on their day. We'll need to be wary of them and we will be because our aim is to keep this run going. There are no easy games in this division and that will definitely be the case when we go through there."

United have been attracting big crowds of late, with over 8000 present to witness their win against Ross County, so McNamara hopes they can bring a large troupe to Paisley to roar their side on to another victory. "They can be like an extra man by creating the sort of atmosphere the players respond to on the pitch," he said. "We're hoping to have a decent-sized following through because it can make all the difference. They're liking what they're seeing from the lads so long may that continue."

United face a hectic festive period with games against St Johnstone and Aberdeen coming hard on the heels of Thursday's encounter. "The games are coming thick and fast," McNamara admitted. "The players are relishing it. We'll just focus on one at a time and see where that takes us."

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