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Wanted man Robertson still happy with his lot

WITH every new club mentioned, the leg-pulling around the Dundee United dressing-room increases.

TARGET: Andy Robertson has been linked with a move to England. Picture: SNS
TARGET: Andy Robertson has been linked with a move to England. Picture: SNS

Stuart Armstrong is now off to Queen's Park Rangers in a £1m deal, Sunderland might be ready to rekindle their interest in John Souttar after having a £600,000 January offer spurned and Ryan Gauld is still being asked, after all this time, about someone from Real Madrid deciding that he might be worth a look.

Andy Robertson has had as much of it as anyone. Everton are understood to be considering him as a potential replacement for Leighton Baines at left-back with Swansea having also had him watched during this most astonishing rise from turning out as an amateur with Queen's Park to becoming a fully-fledged Scotland internationalist in less than a year.

Robertson has grown accustomed to taking everything he hears with a pinch of salt, but the words offered by Mark McGhee, the Scotland assistant manager, earlier this week stood out from the usual rumours and the ribbing.

McGhee urged United's prized batch of talented, young players to consider the example of Southampton's Adam Lallana and plot their career path wisely.

Lallana avoided the temptation of moves to smaller clubs at earlier stages in his development and now has the likes of Liverpool and Manchester United casting envious eyes - not to mention decidedly hefty pay cheques - towards him.

McGhee believes all of United's young players are capable of being regular members of the national squad by the time the upcoming Euro 2016 qualifying campaign reaches its conclusion and has urged them to consider the benefits of remaining together at Tannadice and becoming stronger both personally and collectively.

Of course, financial pressures may dictate otherwise. Robertson, like McGhee, knows this all too well, but he is perfectly serious when he states that his preferred option would be to keep the current United team together and bring greater success to the club next season.

"Money can have a say," conceded Robertson, who was voted the Cheque Centre PFA Scotland Young Player of the Year at the weekend. "Maybe the club couldn't turn down a certain offer for a certain player, but the ideal situation would be that we all stick together. If we had another season all together, we would really push up that league. We were a bit sluggish at the start of this season, as a result of trying to get things together, but we're now in the flow.

"I'd like all the young boys to stay together with all the older players still helping us. It helped at the start of the season that I was walking into a young changing-room with a few experienced heads such as John Rankin, Paul Paton and Sean Dillon. They deserve a lot of credit."

At 20, Robertson has suddenly been linked with a transfer to Goodison Park and the riches of the English Premiership just months after playing in the old Scottish Third Division and was given his first international cap in Warsaw in March in a 1-0 friendly win over Poland. His remarkable story has been well documented, of course, but he insists that being surrounded by other players in similar situations has helped keep him focused.

"I took it in my stride," he said. "Teams were named, but there was nothing concrete and I just got on with my football. I think it helped that there were three or four United boys being linked with moves and it wasn't just concentrated on me. I think we all dealt with it well and had a joke about it, which was the best way to deal with it."

There is still business of considerable consequence to be dealt with, however. United are still pushing for a Europa League place in the SPFL Championship and have the small matter of a date with St Johnstone at Celtic Park on May 17 in the final of the William Hill Scottish Cup.

"A cup winner's medal would be the cherry on top," added Robertson, as he reflected on a quite fantastical year. "We have a 50-50 chance and everyone at the club is looking forward to it."

Any student of form might regard United's odds at slightly less than that. For all the positive publicity their play has attracted this season, St Johnstone have turned them over three times out of four in the league with their last victory coming less than a fortnight ago.

"Maybe they do have a good gameplan against us," said Robertson. "In those three defeats, though, I don't think we have played well. They work hard and we have to match their workrate in the final. If we do that, I hope our ability will come through."

United were nothing short of irresistible when thrashing Motherwell 5-1 at Fir Park on Saturday, a point not lost on Robertson. "We did not play well against Rangers in the Scottish Cup semi-final, but Motherwell was a great performance from the boys, though, and we are now looking for a continuation of that."

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