Scottish Premier League

McNamara hails United starlets

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Fri, 22 Feb 2013 17:58:00

Bristol City defender Matthew Bates has signed a new deal to keep him at Ashton Gate until the end of the season.

The 26-year-old had been out of contract since the middle of January, having originally joined the club in mid-November.

The former Middlesbrough man played eight times under previous manager Derek McInnes and, after the Scot's departure, new head coach Sean O'Driscoll had to wait a couple of weeks to assess Bates fully due to an illness picked up by the centre-back.

City have also announced that development players Kevin Krans and Luke Dobie have signed new 18-month contracts.

The duo, who joined in the summer, have both have impressed academy coaching staff suitably to earn extended terms at Ashton Gate.

United secured their third win in four games under McNamara when they won 1-0 at Motherwell on Tuesday night after Gary Mackay-Steven set up Johnny Russell for the only goal on the counter-attack.

The pair and Stuart Armstrong, all Scotland Under-21 internationals, stretched Motherwell a number of times on the break in the second half and only the brilliance of Motherwell goalkeeper kept his side in the game before James McFadden's 73rd-minute introduction.

McNamara said: "There is a lot of ability here and it's just getting them to believe how good they are.

"I think some of the younger ones don't realise how good they are. There are some fantastic talents.

"For me, the other night, the forward line we had were the three most exciting players we have in the country.

"People were talking about McFadden coming back to Motherwell. When I look at our front three - Armstrong, Russell and GMS - it's exciting not just for Dundee United but for Scottish football."

United host Hibernian on Sunday and McNamara is confident they will create chances, having scored nine goals since he took over from Peter Houston.

But it is the defensive aspect of the game that he believes will be key after following their 6-2 defeat at Celtic Park with a resolute performance at Fir Park to restrict the home side to few chances despite sustained pressure.

"We have created a lot of chances in every game since I have been here," the former Partick Thistle boss said.

"We just have to defend well as a team, help each other and pass the ball properly.

"If we defend well in any game, we can score goals and hurt any teams in this league.

"Not many teams go to Celtic Park and score two and create the number of chances we did.

"Although it was a hefty defeat, I took positives from that. Obviously I took the negative side of it in the defending, which for me is preventable."

The former Scotland international added: "It comes down to responsibility - wee things in the game, we always say it's a thin line.

"We scored a great goal (at Celtic Park) and because we had not switched on after scoring we lost a corner which we shouldn't have done.

"We didn't pick up properly at the corner and suddenly the whole game has changed, instead of keeping the ball for 10 or 15 minutes and maybe getting another chance to score.

"It's wee things that we will get used to and hopefully learn."

Meanwhile, McNamara is set to step up his assessment of 23-year-old Swedish defender Marcus Tornstrand.

"We have still got the trialist with us training," he said. "We have a closed doors game against Limerick tomorrow and we will have a wee look at him and make a decision on him."

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