Courts: United are still plotting course through Covid issues

Dundee United have had additional cases this week, and players returning.

Dundee United manager Tam Courts revealed he is still trying to navigate his squad through the challenges of a Covid outbreak at the club ahead of Sunday’s cinch Premiership clash at home to Hibernian.

The Tannadice side were hit by a number of positive cases prior to last weekend’s 1-0 defeat at Rangers and Courts reported that the situation has not subsided, with fresh cases this week.

He said: “We’ve had a couple of additional Covid cases this week, we’ve got staff members with Covid and we’re trying to reintegrate the players sensibly and safely who had Covid last week, so it’s constantly a moving feast and a challenge.

“We obviously just need to do it for one more game until we get a break.”

Courts explained how he must assess the readiness of those who have been isolating before he decides whether to restore them to the team.

He said: “Between now and the end of the week, Peter Pawlett, Benjamin Siegrist and Ian Harkes will return. But we still need to understand what condition they might be in. They’ve been in the house for 10 days, so you’re starting to get into the realms of player care.

“On the one hand, you look forward to having that calibre of player back available to you but also they’re not at peak fitness because they’ve been in the house for 10 days.”

Courts expressed disappointment that Sunday’s cinch Premiership fixtures were not postponed.

The SPFL opted to bring the winter break forward and postpone two matchdays in response to Scottish Government restrictions imposed on crowds at outdoor sporting events, but Courts believes the rescheduling of matches should also have included the Boxing Day card.

He said: “It seemed to me that the majority of the clubs had a strong appetite for going straight into the winter break, and I think that was my preference as well.

“We’ve got used to playing in front of fans and this is a period of the season where fans enjoy coming to the stadium, spending time with their families.

“Players obviously have quite a tricky schedule over the festive period so they can play for the fans, so I’m a little bit disappointed we’re still being made to play this game at the weekend and we’re not drawing a line in the sand and going into the winter break straight away.”

Courts is eyeing a victory over Hibs after a run of six defeats in eight fixtures, including losses in each of the last four.

He said: “We need to get back to winning ways. One thing we don’t lack here is belief. There’s still a lot of optimism and positivity.

“The 21 points we got in the first quarter gave us a solid foundation. Four points in the second quarter was obviously not what we were targeting. A lot of the games in the first quarter we won 1-0.

“In the second quarter we’ve actually performed reasonably well and lost a number of games 1-0.

“We understand the points total we’ll need to get into the top six so I still feel very much in control of where we are and I’m optimistic that come January when we’ve got a clean bill of health and potentially a couple of signings, that we’ll go on and hit another level again.”

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