Published: 3rd February 2024
Thrust into the heat of a cinch Championship title race, Dundee United defender Ross Graham believes patience has been a virtue in his success at the heart of a mean tangerine back four.
By Kane O’Neill
MAINTAINING THE STATUS QUO
Part of a backline that has secured four shutouts in their last five second-tier matches, the Academy graduate has deputised admirably for the injured Declan Gallagher.
Since his re-introduction into the fold, he has put 382 first-team minutes under his belt.
Queried on the key to defensive success, Graham began: “The main objective for the back four and the team collectively is to keep a clean sheet - it sets good foundations for us to go and try to win games.”
Having solidified himself in the XI, the 22-year-old is well aware the competition for a starting place within the Tannadice ranks is fierce in a squad with such depth, and is therefore desperate to grasp his opportunity with both hands.
"If it’s an injury or a suspension or anything like that, you’ve got to wait for your opportunity and make sure you take it when it comes”, he continued.
“I’m just taking each game as it comes and trying to put in good performances - you have to be ready when you are called upon.”
With Scotland international Gallagher set to return from a groin injury within the coming weeks, giving United boss Jim Goodwin a selection headache when his senior colleague returns to full fitness is high on the Blairgowrie-born stopper’s agenda.
“You see that from the squad we’ve got now, there's a lot of strength and depth. With that you need to be at it every game, putting in good performances and make sure you keep a hold of that jersey - you've got to be doing everything you can”.
Naturally left-footed, Graham has welcomed the challenge of playing in an unfamiliar role on the opposite side of the centre-half pairing.
“I've not played there as much in my career, but I'm enjoying it - it's something new for me. I'm just taking each game as it comes and getting more comfortable with that position. I'm just happy to be on the pitch.”
SET FOR SOMERSET
The Terrors head for Ayrshire this Saturday, with the Somerset Park dugout set to herald the debut of new boss Scott Brown. Despite the buoyant atmosphere which will ripple through the home terraces, taking three points back the East Coast remains the target for United.
Briefly touching on Matchday 23’s challenge, he remarked: “When a team get a new manager, they usually get a bounce from it.
“I played there before with Dunfermline Athletic a couple of years ago. It’s never an easy place to go - I know what it’s like.
“We did well there at the beginning of the season so we’ll just be looking to replicate that performance.”