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James McPake and Dundee ready for key derby week

Dundee v West Ham United – Pre Season Friendly – Kilmac Stadium
(Image credit: Ian Rutherford)

James McPake is already looking forward to what could be a pivotal week in Dundee’s season.

The Dark Blues could only draw with Livingston at Dens Park on Saturday despite having the majority of chances and an attacking line-up that included on-loan Celtic striker Leigh Griffiths, with Jason Cummings coming off the bench and Cillian Sheridan an unused sub.

McPake’s men will now try to finally secure their first cinch Premiership win of the season at the home of city rivals Dundee United next Sunday.

That game is quickly followed by a Premier Sports Cup quarter-final with St Johnstone on the Wednesday night before champions Rangers come calling on league business on the Saturday, and the manager admits he cannot wait.

McPake said: “I love derby week. The whole city gets a buzz about it now.

“We will assess the Livingston game and pick the bones from it. But all the focus from then is on Sunday.

“There is a huge week coming up with the derby followed by the quarter-final and then Rangers coming here so it is going to be a testing time but we have the squad to do that and we are looking forward to it.”

McPake was frustrated that Dundee did not secure all three points from the game against Livi but he insisted there were plenty of positives to take from the performance, reserving special praise for midfielder Shaun Byrne’s performance against his former club.

He added: “We had control of the game in my opinion in the first half and were creating chances through good play.

“In the second half, it became a game of basketball. We were giving them a chance and they were giving us a chance.

“I thought Shaun Byrne was outstanding all afternoon. You can see why the Livi fans and the club rated him so highly. He was as good as he has been for this football club in a while.

“But we defended our box pretty well. It was our first clean sheet in the league and that’s a positive.

“But we have to look at the overall picture and if we take those chances in the first half, then we might not need to defend our box so well.

“Second half is as poor as we have been but again it is a clean sheet and a point.

“I am not celebrating it as we need to start winning games and that needs to come quickly but yes, I am really pleased with the defensive performance particularly in the second half.”