Dundee United face their biggest match of the season tonight.
Their home clash against Ross County could all but end the Championship title race, with the Staggies able to open up a 14 point gap on second place United with victory.
Only a win is acceptable for Robbie Neilson’s men, a task which becomes much harder without their talisman Pavol Safranko. He’s scored 11 goals in 29 appearances whilst playing for the Tannadice side and will be a massive miss against the league leaders.
With new striker Osman Sow also set to miss the game through injury, it leaves the door open for two attacking players to step up and fill in the void Safranko has left.
Nicky Clark has only made eight starts in 16 appearances for the Arabs this season, whilst new signing Cammy Smith has played 90 minutes on just two occasions since moving to United from St Mirren in January.
Both are blessed with ability though and they need to start together against the Staggies.
Clark and Smith could be a deadly duo
Despite Clark finding starts hard to come by this season, he’s still found the net 11 times in all competitions. Clark has managed to score goals in the unfamiliar position of central attacking midfield, somewhere Neilson has deployed him regularly this season.
Where he thrives though is in the striker position. During the past two Championship campaigns, he hit the net 29 times whilst at Dunfermline. Clark knows where the goal is at this level if he’s played in his natural position. Scoring three goals in his last three appearances, the forward could really shine if he’s given the opportunity up top.
If Clark moves to striker, it leaves his CAM position vacant. This should go to January signing Smith. He has been playing out on the left since arriving at Tannadice. Like Clarke though he thrives in his natural position.
You only have to look to his record for St Mirren in the Championship last year to see how good he can be. The midfielder scored 10 goals and notched seven assists for the Buddies last season as they cruised to the division title.
Much like Clarke he is a great player at this level. Smith has excellent passing ability and possesses an eye for the spectacular. Should the former Buddie play to the top of his game, County will find themselves in bother.
Safranko’s absence will cause little damage to United if Smith and Clark play to the top of their game. They’re both great footballers, and if Neilson deploys them in the correct positions, they could cause havoc against Ross County.
It’s a must win game for the Arabs. They’ll need some top performances if they want to keep the Championship title race alive.
Clark and Smith may well be the keys to victory and they have to start together against the league leaders.