LAWRENCE Shankland believes his lack of playing time against Dundee United for St Mirren this season could work to his advantage — because the Terrors won’t know what to expect from him.

Shankland, who began this season at the Paisley 2021 Stadium on loan at the Buddies, feels he can be Ton’s secret weapon because he wasn’t much playing time in Paisley — starting with shooting down United today.

He told the Tele: “I’ve not played much against them. I came on maybe for about 20 minutes in both games so I’ve not had a crack at them. Hopefully I get a chance to cause them some problems.

“You get familiar with teams and players having played them four times or more per season, and they get familiar with your strengths as well. I might be able to offer an element of surprise and I’m looking forward to getting out there.”

He joked: “This season I’ve got a cracking record of sitting watching Dundee United from the bench for St Mirren — hopefully I can get some time on the pitch today.

“But Dundee United are a strong team and Tannadice is a difficult place to go and pick up points, not many teams are able to do it.

“But we’re on a good run of form ourselves, so hopefully we go there and acquit ourselves well.”

Asked if the team are looking at potentially reeling in United in second, Shankland replied: “We’re taking it one game at a time. If we end up second, fair enough, but we just need to pick up as many points as we can and focus on nothing but that.”

Shankland has been enjoying his time in Greenock since joining on loan from Aberdeen and admits it didn’t take him any time to settle in with his new welcoming team-mates.

He said: “It’s been good, I’ve enjoyed being here since the off. I got a good start where I scored on my debut and I’ve been playing games. The boys have been great with me and have helped me settle in.”

Shankland was rather harshly denied his second Ton goal last weekend after his strike against Falkirk was disallowed for handball. The striker’s take was that the referee’s call was cruel — but said that’s football.

He explained: “Wee Nizzy [Aidan Nesbitt] had a shot and there’s a boy on the six-yard line I think. It’s bounced off him and ricocheted to me.

“It bounced up and hit me on the stomach and then the arm and I scored.

"I thought it was a wee bit harsh to start with, but it did drop right to my feet so maybe the ref looked at that and chalked it off.

“It’s a shame because it would’ve been another goal for me and it would’ve put us in a good position in the game as well. Sitting 2-0 up would’ve put us in a strong position.

“But the ref bailed us out at the other end a wee bit with their goal that was ruled out. 

“That could maybe have been seen as harsh as well — so it evened itself out over the stretch.”