CHRIS ERSKINE admits he wouldn't have dreamed of starring in Europe as he toughed it out in the gritty Junior leagues - but now it's his mission to get there.


The Dundee United attacker was turning out for Ayrshire Junior outfit Kilbirnie Ladeside just a few years ago as he strove to reach the big-time, and having made the step up to Partick Thistle, he then went on to clinch a dream move to Tannadice two years ago.

The 28-year-old, who hit the winner in last weekend's 1-0 league victory over Hamilton, has set his sights on catching rivals Inverness and knows a win away to Aberdeen today would see them start to breathe down the necks of the Highlanders in the race for a Euro slot.

It's something the wide-man wouldn't have thought remotely possible a few years back but his fortunes have since changed dramatically and that's why he'd love nothing more than to help Jackie McNamara's men make it into Europe.

Erskine said: "It would be great and another thing to tick off the list. I was playing junior football from when I was 21 until I was signed by Partick Thistle at 22.

"European football is not something I thought would have happened 10 years ago. You couldn't get any further away playing in the juniors!

"The boys have mentioned their experiences and it is something you want to do, to play against team from other countries and to test yourself against better players. It is a big experience and it would be something I would be proud to say I have done."

Erskine knows what third place would do for the Tannadice side and insists they would gladly have accepted their current position before a ball was kicked.

He said: "Third place is still there for us. If we win on Saturday we are only three points behind Inverness and we still have to play them again twice. "Third place would be a big achievement for the club.

"People have said it has all been doom and gloom but if we were to finish third then that would be viewed as a successful season because we have also been to a cup final as well. I am sure we would have taken that at the start of the season.

"European football is one of the main things we want at this club and we want to be involved in that. We were on a bad run but in all honesty it wasn't all doom and gloom because we knew we would come out of it with a bit of hard work.

"It took longer than we wanted but there has always been a feel-good factor about the place. We knew that we would need to scrap for things and thankfully we were able to bring the bad run to an end against Hamilton.

"It was a good goal and some decent build-up play from Charlie and Mario in the build-up and I just managed to put it in the net. It was a good win but we were far from our best and that is something we need to improve on."

However, McNamara's side will be without midfielders Ryan Dow and Paul Paton for the trip to Pittodrie - and possibly for the rest of the campaign. The Tannadice duo have both been sent for scans on injuries and look like they might not feature again between now and the end of the campaign.

McNamara said: "Ryan Dow has been down to see a specialist in Bradford and that could be him out for the season. He has Ostetis Pubis, which is a frustrating one because it needs rest and then to see where you are. He might need a little operation so he's back for pre-season, we'll just have to wait and see."