Full-metal man Rankin fo­cused on league and cup ‘dou­ble’

The Herald - Herald Sport - - DUNDEE UNITED V CELTIC - EUAN MCARTHUR

JOHN RANKIN has proof that he is full of metal for the chal­lenges fac­ing Dundee United in the run-in to the end of the sea­son.

A scan last sum­mer re­vealed that he still has a piece of metal in his knee fol­low­ing surgery dur­ing his days at In­ver­ness Ca­ley This­tle, but it has not stopped Rankin putting in some match-win­ning per­for­mances this sea­son.

The 30-year-old mid­fielder is now look­ing for­ward to to­day’s league meet­ing with Celtic – he re­fuses to give up hope of his side over­haul­ing Aberdeen and Mother­well to fin­ish sec­ond in the league and qual­ify for next sea­son’s Europa League – and next weekend’s Scot­tish Cup semi­fi­nal against the other half of the Old Firm, Rangers.

United are en­ter­ing a crunch week which will de­fine their sea­son, but Rankin swears that fourth-top United are blank­ing out all talk of their cup semi-fi­nal show­down to con­cen­trate on fin­ish­ing as high up the ta­ble as pos­si­ble.

He said: “A few people have asked, ‘What about the semi-fi­nal?’ But it hasn’t even been dis­cussed.

“There has al­ways been some­thing for us to play for and we now have a game against the cham­pi­ons, so the semi is not some­thing we have had time to dwell on or think about.

“It has prob­a­bly helped our form in the build-up, as some­times you can get side-tracked by the prospect of a semi-fi­nal. When you get to this stage of the cam­paign boys be­gin to switch off, but we can still fin­ish in sec­ond place and make a cup fi­nal.”

Re­gard­ing his knee, Rankin said: “There is a bit of metal left in from the first time I had an op on it at In­ver­ness. It has been there for years.

“I didn’t know it was there un­til I went for my scan last year. I’m not sure how or why it is there, but when they op­er­ated last sum­mer they just de­cided to leave it in as it is not caus­ing me any prob­lems.

“To be hon­est, when you have a wee nig­gly in­jury like I had, you are try­ing to play through it un­til you can have a tidy-up. Last sea­son, I couldn’t turn over my right shoul­der. I would just feel it click, so I al­ways moved to my left. I am mov­ing a lot freer this sea­son, so it was def­i­nitely the right de­ci­sion to have the tidy-up.

“The metal will be left there as it is now part of me, but I might have to have a re­think af­ter the sum­mer if I am get­ting beeped go­ing through air­port se­cu­rity when leav­ing on hol­i­day. Se­ri­ously, it is not some­thing I am wor­ried about.”

Rankin’s man­ager, Jackie McNa­mara, in­sists pre­vi­ous en­coun­ters with Celtic this sea­son proves his play­ers can live with the best. He said: “We were un­lucky not to beat them at Park­head be­fore Christ­mas and ear­lier in the sea­son we lost to a last-minute free-kick.

“This is an­other big game which we’re look­ing for­ward to and there’s still plenty to play for be­tween now and the end of the sea­son.”

RANKIN: still be­lieves United can fin­ish sec­ond in the league

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