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  1. Scott Allan will most likely be going back to his parent club as Celtic will want to oversea his recovery. Whether that means we will see him in a Dark Blue jersey again will remain to be seen. McCann stated in the news that “Because he’s a loan player we, quite rightly, have to be guided by Celtic and their medical staff. It’s early days and we’re just waiting.” Julen Etxabeguren's injury nightmare looks to be coming to a close. The Spanish defender injured his Achilles tendon last March against Partick Thistle and was stretchered off after 69 minutes. He went under the knife to correct the issue and has since been making a slow recovery. Jules has played in the under 20's and as recently as last week in Dave McKay's testimonial. McCann said 'That was his third or fourth game and he looks really good. I wanted him to feel like being a professional footballer again with a crowd, against a good St Johnstone side'. McCann admitted that before joining Dundee as manager he didn't know much about Julen. 'I knew he was a quality player but I have to admit that I didn’t know too much about him beyond that. You need to get to know a player personally and see him training. I’ve been able to do that over the last couple of months, But he’s like a new signing. We’ve got Kosta and Josh coming back as well. These are like quality signings outside the transfer window.' Another long time absentee Kostadin Gadzhalov is set for a return. The big Bulgarian has been out since July with a Calf Strain which has seen him miss most of the start of the season. Like Etxabeguren, Gadzhalov has recently had a run in a few development league games and now shows signs that he could be back in the squad after the international break. Neill McCann has stated that Josh Meekings 'is looking brilliant' and could be nearing his Dundee debut. The ex-Inverness defender had been working on his recovery at Dens Park over the summer, fuelling speculation that the big defender could join the Dundee Ranks. Meekings joined Dundee in August just before the transfer windowed closed, however has had to wait over two months to wear a Dark Blue jersey in a competitive game while getting back to full health. 'Josh has been looking good in training, but you can’t expect him to go straight in after such a long time out. After the international break, all going well, Josh and Jules will be ready to start pushing themselves for inclusion'. While this is good news for the players, this will however most likely give McCann a choice headache, this will possibly mean he will have 6 central defenders to choose from after the international break. However, with the way that the youngsters Kerr Waddell and Jack Hendry have been playing recently, the returnees may have to wait their turn before they get into that starting line-up.
  2. The Spanish centre-half, who has had more than his fair share of injuries, had to be carried off on a stretcher after 69 minutes of the Dark Blues’ home clash with Partick Thistle. Sadly for Etxabeguren, it was also his own goal after 29 minutes that separated the sides as the Jags replaced the Dens men in the Premiership’s top six with a deserved 1-0 victory. Dundee boss Paul Hartley said: “Julen is away to hospital and we think he may have ruptured his Achilles. “It looks like it could be a bad one for him, which is a massive blow because he has been doing really well for us. “We will just have to wait and see what the people at the hospital say.” As for the rather flat performance from his players as they failed to follow up excellent wins over Rangers and Motherwell, Hartley added: “I didn’t think it was a great game but our quality wasn’t there tonight. “I was disappointed with the goal we lost. “It was a bad one from our point of view. “I thought we played better in the second half but we still didn’t pass the ball as well as we can. “Thistle defended really well so credit to them for that but we didn’t create enough chances. “It’s going to be like this right through to the split, games will be scrappy and it will be a case of grinding it out. “We have a wee break now until our next game against St Johnstone so we will regroup and be ready to go again.” Jags boss Alan Archibald, surely one of Scotland’s most under-rated coaches, was understandably pleased with his players. He said: “It was the perfect away performance, really so I’m delighted. “We didn’t sit in during the first half but every time the ball was turned over we looked dangerous. “Dundee put us under pressure in the last 15 minutes but we handled it well. “That’s a few clean sheets in a row now, which is very pleasing, and the three centre backs have been outstanding. “The most we’ve stayed in the top six in the past has been 24 hours or something, so it we can stay there for the next few weeks then we can start thinking about looking up. “But right now it’s about staying there, so that has to be the focus for the next few weeks. “We have real confidence and have a tough Scottish Cup tie against Aberdeen coming up but we’re looking forward to it.”
  3. The 25-year-old centre-half had to stretchered off in the 69th minute of Wednesday night’s defeat at Dens to Partick Thistle and was rushed to hospital with fears that he had ruptured his Achilles. Etxabeguren has not had his injury troubles to seek since joining the Dark Blues in the summer of 2015 but has made 22 appearances so far this season for Hartley’s side with the manager admitting after the Thistle game that the defender “had been doing really well for us”. However, Hartley will have to wait until after this weekend to receive a better idea of the full extent of the damage and whether the player will need an operation. Etxabeguren is set to meet a specialist surgeon on Monday after which a course of action will be decided upon and a potential timescale for his recovery mapped out.
  4. The Spanish centre-half, who has had more than his fair share of injuries, had to be carried off on a stretcher after 69 minutes of the Dark Blues’ home clash with Partick Thistle. Sadly for Etxabeguren, it was also his own goal after 29 minutes that separated the sides as the Jags replaced the Dens men in the Premiership’s top six with a deserved 1-0 victory. Dundee boss Paul Hartley said: “Julen is away to hospital and we think he may have ruptured his Achilles. “It looks like it could be a bad one for him, which is a massive blow because he has been doing really well for us. “We will just have to wait and see what the people at the hospital say.” As for the rather flat performance from his players as they failed to follow up excellent wins over Rangers and Motherwell, Hartley added: “I didn’t think it was a great game but our quality wasn’t there tonight. “I was disappointed with the goal we lost. “It was a bad one from our point of view. “I thought we played better in the second half but we still didn’t pass the ball as well as we can. “Thistle defended really well so credit to them for that but we didn’t create enough chances. “It’s going to be like this right through to the split, games will be scrappy and it will be a case of grinding it out. “We have a wee break now until our next game against St Johnstone so we will regroup and be ready to go again.” Jags boss Alan Archibald, surely one of Scotland’s most under-rated coaches, was understandably pleased with his players. He said: “It was the perfect away performance, really so I’m delighted. “We didn’t sit in during the first half but every time the ball was turned over we looked dangerous. “Dundee put us under pressure in the last 15 minutes but we handled it well. “That’s a few clean sheets in a row now, which is very pleasing, and the three centre backs have been outstanding. “The most we’ve stayed in the top six in the past has been 24 hours or something, so it we can stay there for the next few weeks then we can start thinking about looking up. “But right now it’s about staying there, so that has to be the focus for the next few weeks. “We have real confidence and have a tough Scottish Cup tie against Aberdeen coming up but we’re looking forward to it.”
  5. TheDarkBlues

    Dundee sweat over fitness of defensive duo

    Etxabeguren missed the 1-1 draw with Kilmarnock at the weekend with an Achilles problem while fellow-centre back Gadzhalov is also a fitness worry ahead of the weekend visit of Rangers. With time before Sunday’s match against the Glasgow giants, boss Paul Hartley is hopeful he’ll have them available. He said: “We’ve got a couple we’re waiting on just now. “We’ve got a few more days, Etxabeguren is still struggling, Kosta as well but we’ll assess them over the next couple of days.” If both were to miss out, that would leave just two fit and available centre-backs in Darren O’Dea and Kevin Gomis. Meanwhile, it looks likely caretaker manager Graeme Murty will be in charge for the Ibrox club at Dens on Sunday. And Paul admitted he was surprised to see former boss Mark Warburton leave the Glasgow side last Friday. “I think it was a big surprise — you saw Mark Warburton doing his presser on the Friday and then it changed within a few hours. “I spoke to David Weir last week and you don’t have any indication something’s not right so it was a big surprise but nothing surprises you in football now I don’t think. “It was done really quickly but they’ve put somebody in temporary charge, they managed to get a good result. “Will they have somebody in charge before the game? It doesn’t look likely but you never know what can happen in the next few days.” With the spotlight firmly on the visitors, Paul is keen to see his side take no notice of the media circus surrounding the game. He said: “We’re the sideshow for the game. “All the attention’s going to be on Rangers, probably more Press attention at the game — we’ve just got to focus on getting a result against them. “How we can get the three points and how can we hurt them. “How we can exploit their weaknesses. “We don’t really think about what’s going on behind the scenes at Rangers. “Obviously there’s been a lot going on over the last week but our main focus is to try and get a result.”
  6. For the Dark Blues, there is little doubt the January interval came at the wrong time. As they beat St Johnstone 3-0 in the last game before it, they were flying and probably would have preferred the next game to come as soon as possible and not three weeks later. And when the games did come round again, they were denied the services of skipper and influential defensive presence of Darren O’Dea. He’s had to sit out the last two matches because of cup and league suspensions. And while the displays against the Buddies and Dons were not good, luck has not been on Dundee’s side. In the cup-tie, Marcus Haber was denied by the crossbar and, with the scores still level, the same happened to Paul McGowan up at Pittodrie. On Friday night, what looked a dodgy linesman’s flag for offside against Haber also denied Craig Wighton what would have been the opening goal of the game. But when centre-half Julen Etxabeguren looks back at those defeats, all he sees are excuses — lame ones. And the big Spaniard is having none of it. He puts the recent woes down to just one thing — poor play by him and his team-mates. He knows that’s got to change if the team are to get to where they feel they should be this season. “We need more consistency if we are going to get better results,” he said. “We want to be top six and we can be top six. “If we are going to do that, we have to play the best way we can week in, week out. Just now it is not happening. “We cannot play so well against St Johnstone and then play the way we have against St Mirren and Aberdeen. We must sort it out, we have to. “We have two good games when we play well and get good results, then we have games like the last two and it is not good enough. “It is something we have to improve on if we want to be top six and if we want to have a good end of season.” Looking back to the Aberdeen defeat, the 25-year-old admits the fact Dundee lost to an in-form side, who consistently operate at the top end of the Premiership table, will not have surprised many people. His view, though, is there is a way to lose and Friday wasn’t it. “I think we started well but then we weren’t good enough and we didn’t show all the things we can do. “We didn’t turn up and it was a fair result — it could have been more! “I know we maybe should have had the first goal but on the pitch I was not able to see if it was offside or not. “If it had counted, it could have changed the game. “But it would be wrong to use that to say why we did not play well after. “We cannot use it as an excuse because it does not justify how we have played the rest of this game. “We were thinking at half-time if we score one goal we are back in the game but I do not think we even had one chance in the second half. “After it was 2-0, we never got close to getting back into the game and that is what we must change. “We know that Aberdeen is a hard place to go and you can lose games there because they are a very strong team. “That is a fact, but it was the performance that was very disappointing. We could have done much better.”
  7. Dundee travel to Pittodrie tomorrow still reeling from a shock cup defeat to Championship strugglers St Mirren. Etxabeguren is desperate to make up for that in the Granite City tomorrow. He said: “When we go to Aberdeen, we have to show what we are able to do. “We have to step up as it is a good opportunity for us to try to bounce back. “We owe it to the fans as we let them down and ourselves as well so we can’t perform like that again. “Now we have to try to make up for this disappointment when we get back into league business.” Dundee are just one point off the top six and could leap into the Premiership’s upper level with a draw at Pittodrie. He said: “Everyone is gutted by the result against St Mirren. It was a bad day. “There are no excuses for that defeat but we must move on.”
  8. The Dark Blues crashed out of the William Hill Scottish Cup at the first hurdle as the Championship strugglers from Paisley pulled off one of the shocks of the round. Etxabeguren is now looking to make amends as league business resumes against the Dons at Pittodrie. The centre-half said: “We have to step up. When we go to Aberdeen, we have to show what we are able to do. “It’s a good opportunity for us to try and bounce back. “I think we owe it to the fans. We can’t perform like that again. We have let them down as well as ourselves. “Now we have to try and make up for this disappointment when we get back into league business.” Etxabeguren admitted there were no excuses for the poor performance against St Mirren. He added: “It was a bad day. We all know that. Everyone is gutted by the result. “You have to show more when you go on the pitch in a cup tie like that but we didn’t and that’s why that happened. There are no excuses and we must move on. “St Mirren showed pride and deserved to win the tie. “We weren’t good enough and they had much more desire on the day. “That shouldn’t be the case but that’s the way it was. “That is very disappointing but we have a chance to do better in our next game which has got to be the aim for us now.”
  9. The 3-0 victory over Saints at Dens Park sent the Dark Blues into the three-week winter break on a high and Julen, who played a key role in keeping the clean sheet alongside Kosta Gadzhalov, says that is exactly what they were after going into the match. He said: “It was an important game for us, we had to get a result. “We wanted to go into the break with a good feeling and have a gap between us and the bottom teams. “I think we needed the three points, it was really important for us. “It’s such a competitive league and all the teams are even — every team can beat every team. “When you win, it’s really important and the points can open up a gap which is also important.” That gap to the teams at the bottom is five points to Hamilton in 11th and six to the side currently rooted to the foot of the table, Inverness. And ahead of the league action restarting at the end of the month against Aberdeen, Etxabeguren says the breathing space given to the Dark Blues by that win and their recent good home form means they can start looking up rather than below in the second half of the season. He added: “I think we can still get there (the top six), to be honest. “The last two months we have been playing well and getting good results. “Some results have been better than other games but that’s part of football. “I think we are heading in the right direction. We got the result against St Johnstone which meant we can enjoy the break with good feelings. “It’s a crazy league this season. Before the last game there was just four points difference between the bottom of the league and the top six teams. I think it’s going to be like this for the whole season. “If we are able to open up a gap between ourselves and the bottom teams I think we can start looking forward.” Former Real Sociedad youth Julen has been at Dundee now for 18 months after signing from East Fife following a break from the professional game to study. Now, though, he’s delighted to be part of things at Dens Park. He said: “When I wasn’t playing full-time football, I was missing it. “When I was in Spain, I was training every day and you miss it but I can’t complain now. I’m back to full-time football and I’m very happy.” n Dundee Development left-back Conor Quigley has joined Stirling Albion on loan until the end of the season.
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