The Courier & Advertiser (Angus and Dundee)
Top English test awaits Ray McKinnon’s Tangerines.
DUNDEE UNITED: McKinnon cancels holiday to focus on building his squad
Dundee United boss Ray McKinnon is accelerating his recruitment drive as he aims to heal the scar left by relegation.
The Tangerines boss has even cancelled a holiday due to start today so he can focus fully on bringing new players in.
He is close to signing Ross County midfielder Stewart Murdoch, while progress is being made in talks with an experienced British-based goalkeeper, a loan player and a striker from abroad.
Also, there will be “four or five” trialists reporting to St Andrews on the first day of pre-season training on June 27, all of whom will have been playing in England.
McKinnon said: “We may have at least one signing later this week – we are very close.
“We have also agreed to bring a player in on loan, we are close to making an offer for a goalkeeper and there is also a foreign player I am looking at, who I know all about.
“There will also be four or five trialists from down south who I will watch for a week or so during pre-season because I
““We may have at least one signing later this week. RAY MCKINNON
have said I won’t sign anybody on the back of watching a video.
“I have been able to convince them to give us a try because the English preseason starts later than ours so coming to us doesn’t interfere with what’s happening down there.
“So they can, at the very least, get a proper week’s training in with us and see what they think.
“There are a lot of players out there but you need to do due diligence, have a look at them and get references – that all takes time.”
“As a footballer you want to feel wanted and that’s why I’ve come to St Johnstone,” added Paton.
“The gaffer here was quick to tell me he wanted me and that was a massive factor.
“I had a few other clubs down south interested but, after speaking to the manager, I was only ever going to come to St Johnstone.”
Paton is expecting a fight just to get into the Saints’ starting lineup, after the Perth men finished fourth in the league last season.
The midfielder would have had no qualms about trying to get the Tangerines back into the Premiership next season.
But, after he was told he could leave, staying in the Scottish top flight was Paton’s priority.
And the first challenge for the Northern Ireland international is proving his worth to a new manager.
“I don’t expect to just come in and get into the team straight away because there are lads here who have been doing well for a number of years,” Paton said.
“So I’m going to have to fight to get in the team but that’s something I’m looking forward to.
“Hopefully I can add to things here and we can have another successful season.
“I’ve played against the lads plenty of times and have always been really impressed by them.
“You can see their experience, they were always a hard team to face.
“Nobody knows that better than Dundee United because they seemed to beat us all the time for a while.
“The manager has them very well organised, they play good football and, with their experience, they see games out well.
“I’m really looking forward to getting started and I like the fact I’ll be going into a dressing-room of experienced, successful players.
“The club has done brilliantly over the last few years, they’ve been a fixture in the top six and have been a really good side.”
Paton missed out on a place in Michael O’Neill’s squad for the Euros in France but he’s determined to add to his collection of caps during the World Cup qualifiers.
He said: “Staying in the Premiership was important to me because of the international squad.
“I have been in a lot of squads but only have three caps, so I’d like to add to that in future.
“It’s going to be difficult to break back into the squad for Northern Ireland but I’ve got a much better chance than I would playing in the Championship.”
Paton has had knee problems in the past but passing a medical with Saints wasn’t an issue.
“My knee is fine,” he pointed out. “I had scans on it before I signed and everything is good.
“It was important that everything came back fine but I was always confident that would be the case.
“I just want to get started now and get on with pre-season when we’re back in.”