Dundee United manager Tam Courts has asked his squad for a big push ahead of the winter break while recognising he has already made big demands on them.
United have only won once in seven matches ahead of Saturday’s visit of Livingston but still sit in fourth place in the cinch Premiership table.
United were without the likes of Scott McMann, Dylan Levitt, Liam Smith and Marc McNulty during last weekend’s 3-0 defeat by Celtic and subsequently lost Calum Butcher to a three-match suspension.
Levitt is back in full training, but Saturday may come too soon and Courts has taken the chance to remind his players of the progress they made in the early part of the season as they look to rediscover their form.
Courts told DUTV: “It’s been great this week, it’s been a real chance to reflect, have some conversations with the players, set some targets for the next couple of weeks, because it’s a really important period for us.
“We are sitting fourth, we want to stay up the top end of the league, we want to keep chasing, keep pushing. There is an acceptance that we are relying on a small group of players just now, but that’s exciting.
“We have players close to returning from injury and there’s a collective feeling that we want to get back to winning ways and perform to a higher standard than we have done recently.”
Courts acknowledged that a dip in form could happen given the absence of experienced players and sought to reassure his squad.
“It’s probably refocusing, letting the players know that we really value what they have done to this point,” he said.
“They have served the club really really well both in terms of style of play and results, and they have had a lot of interest as a cons result of that, and rightly so.
“But over the last couple of weeks it’s that recognition that we have asked the same players to go to the well and we are going to need to do that between now and the end of December.
“We do have a few players close to returning for some healthy competition and there’s some exciting fixtures coming up.
“There’s a lot to play for, a lot to get excited about. We really want to reward our fans who have stood by us step by step this year, and give them some memorable wins between now and the calendar year.
“It’s a big moment ahead of a really busy run and we really want to start getting back to winning ways.”