Jason Scotland, one of the heroes of Dundee United’s derby success over Dundee at Dens Park on Saturday, came within a whisker of missing the big game.
The Trinidad striker, who set up Jim McIntyre’s second-half winner to leave the Tangerines within touching distance of SPL safety, did not train all last week because of a knee strain.
Putting him on the bench was a last-minute decision by interim boss Gordon Chisholm and, while that proved to be the right call, already Scotland is a major doubt for this weekend’s home clash with Kilmarnock.
“Jason was never in my thoughts for a starting place on Saturday because he was not going to be fit enough for 90 minutes,” said Gordon today.
“I did feel he would have enough in the tank to be a sub and, because he is a player who can come on and change games, I decided to have him on the bench.
“When I did use him, he did very well to set up the winner and cause problems for their defenders, as he often does.”
The down side of Scotland’s influential appearance was another knock on the strained knee that had made him doubtful all last week, and he now faces another battle to be ready to face Kilmarnock.
“Already I would say there is a chance he will miss that one. But he is in getting treatment and we will work on him throughout the week.
“Ideally, I would like to give him a break for a week. But, until we are safe, I need everyone who can play in the squad.
“That maybe means I am pushing the players, but, to be fair to them, they have been willing to push themselves and their attitude has been great.”
Gordon confirmed that despite a report to the contrary yesterday, there are no worries about Scotland’s availability for the Scottish Cup Final.
The player’s work permit will be up for review shortly, but his present one does not expire until the end of June.
He has already put pen to paper on a new two-year contract at Tannadice, though that is subject to him being granted a new permit for next season.
Although his being dropped by former Trinidad coach Bertile St Clair, because he was growing his hair, means Scotland has not played in the required number of internationals to be automatically granted new documentation, United are confident he will be allowed to remain in this country.
Meanwhile, Gordon Chisholm was ignoring the other big contract debate concerning United right now, namely whether or not chairman Eddie Thompson should make his appointment as manager permanent now.
In the wake of Saturday’s win, there were more calls for that, but Gordon is remaining patient and focused.
“I’ve said all along the priority was to get this club to safety and that is all that’s concerning me. I’m happy to wait until we’ve done that and then we can talk about other things.”
Also on the treatment table today was midfielder Grant Brebner, who picked up a thigh knock at Dens.