Houston: Bairns strike duo could cause big problems

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Dundee United boss Peter Houston knows his players will have to shackle in-form strikers Farid El Alagui and Kallum Higginbotham if they are to avoid becoming Falkirk’s latest SPL scalp.

The Bairns won through to the quarter-finals of the Scottish Communities League Cup by defeating Rangers in the last round, and will head to Tannadice brimming with confidence.

That is not something in bountiful supply at Dundee United as they find themselves third bottom of the SPL. But Houston, below, is confident his team are about to turn the corner after shoring up their defence against St Johnstone last weekend. Higginbotham and El Alagui have been running riot in the First Division so Houston is aware his defenders will have to be miserly again.

He said: “Falkirk have two good players in the front area. Higginbotham is a very good player and one I like very much. And El Alagui has been scoring a lot of goals so the pair of them will be a threat.

“It is going to be a very difficult game, you just need to look at their last result against Rangers to see that.

“It is good that they beat an SPL side because it is in our players’ heads that if they can beat the SPL leaders then we will have to be at our very best.”

Houston worked with Bairns boss Steven Pressley during his days at Hearts and always had the former Tynecastle captain marked down as manager material.

He added: “I have great admiration for Steven Pressley. I know what he’s about and how dedicated he is to being a manager. He will go on to become a great manager, I have no doubt about that. Falkirk will bring a good support and they are always vociferous so it has the makings of a very good cup tie.”

United will encounter another familiar face in 36-year-old Darren Dods, who left the club for Falkirk in the summer, and Houston knows the veteran will be desperate to win against his former colleagues.

He said: “Darren Dods is a solid, brilliant professional and a guy I have a lot of time for. He did very well for United during his years here.”