So after a successful first season back in the Premiership, the club and fans are in good spirits as we descend into the new campaign with new expectations of the kind that haven’t been talked about for many a year at Dens Park. Zico has made it clear that he wants to win something as manager of Dundee and it’s great to hear that’s his goal though most Dundee fans this season are expecting another top 6th finish and a cup run to either a Semi or a Final. A trip to Hampden is long overdue for the Dee faithful after all they have been through the past decade so a chance to travel to Hampden that doesn’t involve Queens Park or a Rod Stewart gig would be most welcome.
So far the gaffer has done most of his business very early (well before the end of the season in fact) but we might see one or two new faces in before the start of the season. Here’s my view on the current crop of players and who could be playing.
David Mitchell has been brought in to replace the departed Kyle Letheren but as long as Scott Bain continues to show the form that earned him a Scotland call up, he will have to settle for being backup for a while.
We have signed up some great young talent in Kevin Holt and Daryll Meggatt to challenge for a place in defence along with Julen Etxabeguren who despite some rave reviews for East Fife fans, still remains an unknown quantity. Add Kostadin Gadzhalov, who can make a fresh start after his injuries last season, and Cammy Kerr into the mixer and we have a strong backline with plenty of competition. The defence was an area that I felt we struggled in big time last season for competition and if it wasn’t for James McPake holding the back 4 together, we could have been on the receiving end of a few more defeats.
Now we move on to the midfield which has been strengthened with the arrival of Nick Ross from ICT and Nicky Low from Aberdeen. Throw in the current squad of Harkins, Thomson, Ferry and McGowan and we have a very strong engine for the team. We even have Dylan Carrerio making the step up from the Development Squad and giving Thomson and Ferry’s injury record, he could be featuring in some shape or form.
Upfront we have last season’s success story Greg Stewart, Luka Tankulic and Phil Roberts being joined by new boys Rory Loy and Kane Hemmings. For the first time in a while we will see a frontline of some pacey players that love to take on a defender and also strikers with height which hasn’t been seen since the Colin Nish era. They have big boots to fill if they wish to emulate Nish. I mean that literary, he was a size 10 boot.
Stewart will be one of the first names on the team sheet, that’s a giving but it will be interesting to see how the rest all fit into the team. Tankulic seemed to be coming into his game near the end of the season but he definitely needs another player alongside him as a lone striker role doesn’t suit him. Phil Roberts has been giving an ultimatum by the gaffer so he certainly needs to raise his game while Hemmings and Loy will be out to prove they can cut it in the big league.
PLAYERS THAT MIGHT MAKE A BREAK THROUGH
We have signed a few of players for the development team such as Jesse Curran, Sam Dryden and Ben Priest who will be trying their best to impress the boss and make the first team. Also chapping on his door will be Matty Allen, Calvin Colquhoun and Andy Black.
So looking at the squad we have assembled, Hartley is toying with the idea of playing with 2 upfront which mean he will more than likely be looking at a 4-4-2 formation. If he decided to go down this route then here are a few line-ups he might look at.