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Dundee United have lost Marc McNulty for the rest of the season.

The on-loan Reading forward suffered a knee injury in a collision with team-mate Liam Smith during Saturday’s 1-0 win over Motherwell.

Ahead of a trip to face Rangers on Sunday, head coach Tam Courts said: “Marc McNulty is going to be out and will miss the rest of the season. That innocuous challenge with a team-mate has been quite a severe one.

“We have just got the scan results back so I don’t know the full extent but I know enough to suggest that his season is over.”

McNulty’s Reading contract expires in the summer and the 29-year-old has made it clear he will not return to the Madejski Stadium.

The former Livingston and Hibernian striker will continue having discussions with United sporting director Tony Asghar over his future.

“I’m sure he will be having discussions with Tony internally with us,” Courts said.

“He knows that even beyond the injury we will look after him until he’s back training fully and available for selection, for this club or his next club. We will do everything we can to look after him.”

Although United are well-placed to seal a spot in the Europa Conference League qualifiers, the blow caps off a frustrating personal season for McNulty, who has scored three goals after missing four months following hamstring surgery.

“I remember speaking to him often when he had the muscular injury,” Courts said. “It was actually his first long period of absence and it was something I think he struggled with psychologically because he was pushing to get back a matter of weeks after getting the operation.

“That push almost felt like it happened for a couple of months, he was so desperate to do well for the club and get back onto the pitch and help his team-mates. I think even psychologically it maybe actually hindered him a little bit because he was so desperate to get back.

“He was out for three-and-a-bit months and probably by his own admission didn’t score as many goals as he wanted, even though I felt his commitment and work ethic for the team were really high. But strikers hold themselves to account for the goals they score.

“There is no doubt this season Marc McNulty has added value to the team, he just hasn’t scored the goals that he wanted.”

Meanwhile, Courts revealed United had stepped up their plans for next season.

They have been linked with moves for the likes of St Johnstone goalkeeper Zander Clark and Livingston winger Alan Forrest, while Courts revealed that contract talks with existing players were “progressing well”.

“I have definitely felt in the last seven days in particular there’s been a pick up in pace,” he added.

“We are now actually starting to speak to targets externally, through agents and clubs, and also starting to have conversations internally where we are pushing for decisions.”