Jackie McNamara: Dundee Utd boss retains League Cup hope

Robbir Muirhead, Paul Dixon, Jackie McNamara, Ryan McGowan and Henri Anier
McNamara (centre) and his winter transfer window signings

Manager Jackie McNamara retains his belief that Dundee United can win the Scottish League Cup, despite losing three key players before the final.

Midfield duo Stuart Armstrong and Gary Mackay-Steven joined final opponents Celtic on transfer deadline day in a combined deal worth more than £2m.

And Nadir Ciftci, who scored the semi-final winner against Aberdeen, is suspended for the showpiece.

"I still think we're strong enough to win it," said McNamara.

"I totally understand the fans' frustration and I understand the feelings and emotions because they are going to another Scottish club.

"The fans will see it as a negative and giving in in what we're challenging for.

"That's three players out our team, but I still believe we have enough there to win it."

McNamara pointed to the decision to field Blair Spittal, Charlie Telfer and Aidan Connolly in the 3-2 win at Hamilton in January as evidence United have other options,

"I have great faith in not just the squad, the younger ones coming through, which is why I've moved the squad around over the last month or two and taking little gambles - going away and playing three kids at one game - to see if they're ready.

"I knew this day would come, whether it be now or the summer, and that's the only way you know if the kids are ready."

Dundee United forward Nadir Ciftci is shown a yellow card
This yellow card puts Nadir Ciftci out of the Scottish League Cup final against Celtic

Following the sales of Armstrong and Mackay-Steven, United released a statement saying both players wanted to leave and that McNamara was pleased the winter transfer ins and outs.

"Some things are outwith our hands as a club," McNamara explained. "We're a family club and we do our best to keep a hold of our players as best we can.

"There comes a stage when it's too difficult to keep them."

Coming into Tannadice before the window shut were Estonia striker Henri Anier and Australia defender Ryan McGowan, as well as Scotland Under-19 forward Robbie Muirhead and Paul Dixon on deadline day.

And defender Dixon, who has rejoined United from Huddersfield Town, told BBC Scotland he feels he has come "home".

"I'm very happy," said the 28-year-old, who still retains ambitions of adding to his three Scotland caps. "It's a very important stage of my life and my career.

"Off the pitch, my wife's due our second baby in six weeks, so that's very important to me for getting home."

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