Skip to main content

Simon Rusk calls on Dundee to show fight against Rangers amid selection issues

Dundee v Celtic – Betfred Cup – Quarter Final – Dens Park
(Image credit: Jeff Holmes)

Dundee assistant manager Simon Rusk is hopeful their selection issues will ease ahead of Sunday’s Scottish Cup clash with Rangers as he urged his players to show their fighting spirit in adversity.

Dundee were without 10 players for last weekend’s trip to Motherwell and then lost manager Mark McGhee to a positive Covid-19 test before Wednesday’s visit of St Mirren and key defender Lee Ashcroft in the warm-up.

There were some players back from isolation for the last-gasp defeat by Saints, which followed draws with Hibernian and Well.

Ashcroft and others could return for Sunday’s Dens Park clash, but skipper Charlie Adam is unlikely to make it back from his hamstring problem in time to face his former club.

Rusk said: “We are hopeful by the time we get to Sunday we will have two or three bodies back in that haven’t been available recently. That’s a boost for everyone.

“We have a rough idea of what we are going to look like but at the minute you have to be adaptable to change at short notice.”

Rusk had taken a lead role on the training pitch before McGhee’s positive case and was already the key point of contact in the dugout with the manager banned from the touchline.

On McGhee’s situation, the former Stockport boss said: “He’s doing OK. Firstly of course we just want to make sure his health is all right and he is making a speedy recovery.

“The communication has been good and I’m just disappointed for Mark that he has is not about the place because I know he is desperate to get about it as much as he can.

“It’s frustrating but that is the world we are living in just now and we are positive about what we are doing and just need to roll with the punches.

“We have had it tough the last few games, the last two we have had no recognised forward ready to start, we lose our captain and a big influence on the pitch in the warm-up, so it’s not straightforward.

“We have managed to come out of these games with points and weren’t far away from being three undefeated. We have got to have more of an attacking threat but we are getting bodies back and hopefully we can bring that influence into the game. So there is lots to be positive about.

“We are in a period of adversity, we have to stick together and work hard, but we can’t be victims about it. You have always got to be a fighter.”

Rusk hopes the different feel of the cup tie can be a welcome change from the pressures of trying to get off the bottom of the cinch Premiership.

“We have got to make the players feel as confident as they can and the cup competition is one where you can forget the terminal aspect of the league campaign, if you like,” he said.

“Hopefully the players get the opportunity to express themselves but of course we want to take that expression into our league games as well because we do need to create and have a little bit more in the last third of the pitch.”

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1