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James McPake calls on Dundee players to put bad record against Saints to bed

James McPake
(Image credit: Ian Rutherford)

James McPake will urge his Dundee players to overturn their poor recent record against St Johnstone just as they cast off difficult runs against Aberdeen and Motherwell.

Dundee have lost their last seven meetings with Tayside rivals Saints ahead of Wednesday’s derby clash at Dens Park.

McPake’s side beat Motherwell 3-0 on Saturday after ending an eight-match losing streak against the Steelmen earlier this season and also ended a 13-game losing run against Aberdeen by beating the Dons.

“We hadn’t beaten Aberdeen (in the league) in 17 years and we hadn’t beaten Motherwell in 10 games,” he said.

“It’s great when these wee things come up because you use it. Some players, it doesn’t bother. People use different motivations.

“I will use it, I will go in and tell them that fact and tell them, let’s put it to bed like we did with Motherwell and Aberdeen.”

McPake has been in charge for three of those defeats and knows they face a tough task to end the run against Callum Davidson’s men.

“They are a very good side with a very good manager and coaching staff,” he said. “They won both national cups last season.

“The Scottish Cup tie was very even, we missed a penalty and had a perfectly good goal chalked off.

“The League Cup game was one where we were guilty of not taking our chances. I believe we should have won that game. At McDiarmid Park we were nowhere near it and St Johnstone punished us badly.”

Dundee have shown they can string good runs together, notably in their promotion run-in last season, and have taken 10 points from their past six matches.

But that generally positive run also featured a 5-0 home defeat by Ross County and McPake knows he will have to guard against any slip in standards.

“Looking back over the course of our tenure, it has been consistency (that’s been the problem),” he said.

“There’s been some great performances at times but there’s also been some terrible performances after a very good performance.

“We need the same energy levels and when the atmosphere isn’t created by the fans we need to get the fans going because when they get behind us, trust me, this is a tough place to come.

“Motherwell found that out on Saturday and, speaking to a few Motherwell players, they mentioned that.

“The big focus is that work-rate and desire and that hunger to be a good team-mate.

“To win any game of football, you have got to be really afraid of losing goals and put your body on the line, like they do.

“And then you have just got to work as hard as you can, because the quality is there.

“People say that should be a given, and it should be, but when we come off it a little bit, we are punished.

“So we need to keep those energy levels, the performance levels and that desire to make the fans proud of this football club.”

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