Ross County manager Stuart Kettlewell is refusing to read into any criticism of Dundee United’s lack of firepower ahead of tomorrow’s Premiership trip to Tannadice.
United have recorded goalless stalemates in their last two fixtures against Aberdeen and St Johnstone, with Micky Mellon’s side having struggled for a creative spark in both matches.
Kettlewell is not looking into the recent statistics, highlighting the danger posed by Scotland internationals Lawrence Shankland and Marc McNulty.
Kettlewell has sounded a clear message to his players that any slackness will result in them being punished, and he said: “Their criticism for not creating chances is not coming from me.
“You can pick or shape statistics anyway we want. They must have a real problem with Lawrence Shankland because he has a real problem finding the net – we are talking about them not scoring in two games and Shankland is an absolute goal machine.
“That tells you what the message will be to my team that if he gets a sniff then he will punish us.
“We will have to be at our best to stop him and the likes of McNulty who we know can also come in and score goals. He did at Hibs last season and he is a massive threat.
“They have threats all across the pitch and even from set-plays because they have a real physical presence as well so I am certainly not reading into any criticism from Dundee United on the offensive front.”
United triumphed 2-1 when the sides last met at Victoria Park in August, with the Tangerines currently sixth – a point better off than the Staggies.
Kettlewell is expecting a closely-matched contest on Tayside, and he added: “Dundee United are similar to ourselves. They have been solid in parts and other stages they have lost games where they had expected to take something from.
“The last couple of games we have had them watched and there has been a toughness from them in terms of not conceding against Aberdeen and St Johnstone, two teams who had been in good scoring form.
“They have a solid base to build from although they haven’t had much on the front foot, albeit they have some really good attacking talents in their team.
“There are two fairly evenly matched teams in my opinion and the message comes down to my players making the correct decisions at the right times in games.”
County are without a win since mid-September, and are looking to bounce back from Saturday’s 4-0 reverse at Motherwell.
Although County have also suffered heavy defeats against Celtic and Aberdeen, the Staggies manager has otherwise been content with the competitiveness of the Dingwall side.
He added: “I was asked about the goals we have conceded and I liken it to the teams in and around our area of the table or size of the club.
“We do well against these teams and I know we can improve on the goals against Rangers, Celtic and Aberdeen. Outwith that we have been competitive against the other teams.
“If we can tweak it and make it better against the top four sides then that is what we want to do.”