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    Dundee’s defeat — and the manner of it — on Saturday sees the Dark Blues facing the disappointment of a bottom-six finish again.

    They were well beaten by their Tayside rivals St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park, which has left them three points off Partick in sixth — but with a horrible run of fixtures to come.

    The next couple of games will see the Dee face the league’s top two in Celtic and then Aberdeen.

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    After that comes a difficult trip to Ross County, although Dundee’s last venture to Dingwall saw them come home with three points.

    That’s followed by Hearts at Tynecastle and then a winnable game at home to Hamilton.

    With three of the remaining five matches against teams at the top end of the table, it’s hard to see where Dundee will pick up the points they require to reach their target of the top half.

    Especially when 70% of the points picked up this season by the Dark Blues have been against teams currently in the bottom half.

    Three victories over Rangers, St Johnstone and Hearts this season have been more than welcome but the likelihood is it’s their ability to take points off teams at the bottom that will be tested.

    That, though, shows a chink of brightness for the Dens men if they end up battling it out in the Premiership’s bottom six.

    If there was a league table for the teams in the bottom half at the moment, Dundee would be second.

    Only Motherwell have topped the Dark Blues’ tally of 21 points by picking up 22.

    That ability to collect points against teams near the bottom, and in the process denting their nearest rival’s hopes, can hold them in good stead if the worst happens and they are dragged into a relegation battle.

    Wins over Motherwell twice, Inverness, Hamilton and Ross County added to six draws against the current bottom six would have Dundee sitting in seventh spot in the Premiership.

    Not far behind them in that table would be Kilmarnock on 19 points ahead of Hamilton on 14, then County on 12 with, as expected, bottom-of-the-actual-table Inverness at the foot of this virtual ranking.

    What is a must for Dundee between now and the end of the season is that they keep themselves somewhere near the top of this imaginary table.

    Getting through the games against Celtic, Aberdeen and Hearts with anything will be a bonus surely.

    That means the remaining two matches before the split are enormous.

    Away to County is a tough trip but one, as mentioned earlier, they’ve already come through with flying colours.

    And Hamilton at home is a game you just can’t lose at this point in the season.

    Six points is unlikely to see Paul Hartley’s team overtake Partick in the top half but four might just keep their heads above water come the split.

    Then it’ll most likely come down to how they do against teams in a similar situation as themselves where every point is going to be crucial.

    Over the past 10 years in Scotland’s top flight, only one team in 11th spot has collected 41 points — that was St Mirren in 2012-13.

    Forty points seems like the normal target for teams to secure their place in the league for next year.

    It seems strange to be thinking of safety rather than the top six but Dundee’s last two performances combined with the difficulty of their upcoming games means it’s looking more likely that’ll be the case for the rest of the campaign.

    That means keeping up the good form against bottom-six teams is a must.

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