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  1. The news that Kosta has decided to stay on for a fourth season with the Dee has delighted the fans. Though injuries have hampered Kosta throughout his career at Dens, the Bulgarian has proved to be a reliable defender when on the field. Not known for scoring many goals, his most memorable goal and moment in a Dundee top came in the ‘Doon Derby’ when his header drew the teams level. The match would of course end in a 2-1 win for the Dee. So far in three seasons, Gadzhalov has made 44 appearances and found the back of the net 3 times in all competitions. The club also announced the signing of 21 year-old Lewis Spence from Dunfermline, McCann’s third since taking over. Lewis was recently released by Dunfermline after only making six appearances last season but that hasn’t put McCann off who quickly signed him up on a one-year deal. McCann said: “I’ve seen enough of Lewis in my time at Dunfermline that suggests I wanted to give him a chance here at Dundee. I want to work with him to try realise the potential that I saw in him.” “He knows he is going to have to work extremely hard to force his way into my first 11 but if you take our new vice-captain Cammy Kerr for example, it shows how far you can go in a short space of time with drive and determination given the opportunity.” Spence spent four seasons at East End Park with most of his game time coming in their 2014-15 season. He was shipped off to Brechin for two loan spells.
  2. El Bakhtaoui has missed the last two games, while Gadzhalov’s absence has now stretched to four games since picking up a calf injury in Martyn Fotheringham’s testimonial up at Forfar last month. Both were close to being listed in the weekend squad for what turned out to be a defeat at Hearts but fitness checks on Friday revealed they were not quite ready. With another week to recover, however, there is optimism they can be involved against Accies, who sit just a point below the Dark Blues near the foot of the Premiership table. If Gadzhalov makes it, that could mean teenager Daniel Higgins dropping down to the bench after making his debut at Tynecastle on his 19th birthday. That would not be a reflection of his performance in the capital. “Daniel was very good. His best position is probably in central midfield, where we’ve been playing him for the U/20s,” said boss Paul Hartley. “He can also play in central defence and with the system we wanted to use, we played him there against Hearts. “He was very composed for a player his age and he had a very good upbringing at Celtic before he joined us.” Another who is available again is wide man Danny Williams after serving his suspension for the red card picked up at Ross County last week. The former Inverness winger had enjoyed a decent spell in the team over the last few weeks but lost his cool as tempers boiled over late on in the defeat in Dingwall. He sat out the loss at Tynecastle as a result but will return to the manager’s thoughts for Saturday.
  3. The big Bulgarian will definitely miss next Friday night’s game at Dens while there is a doubt over another key player, Marcus Haber. The Canadian striker missed his country’s friendly fixture against Scotland in Edinburgh on Wednesday night after suffering a knee injury in last weekend’s game at Dens against Celtic. The 29-year-old, who has netted six times since joining the Dark Blues in October, will be assessed next week with Hartley keeping his fingers crossed that he will be passed fit for the Dons game. Gadzhalov hurt his calf at the start of Tuesday night’s testimonial at Station Park for Forfar stalwart Martyn Fotheringham. Hartley now only has two fit first-team central defenders in Darren O’Dea and Kevin Gomis with Julen Etxabeguren recently having Achilles surgery and club captain James McPake a long-term absentee because of his knee injury. Meanwhile, Dundee’s Craig Wighton is in the Scotland Under-21 squad that will play Estonia at St Mirren’s ground next Tuesday night.
  4. The Bulgarian lasted just 10 minutes of Martyn Fotheringham’s 10-year celebration at Station Park. With Julen Etxabeguren and James McPake long-term absentees and not expected to return to action until next season, the Dark Blues are left with just two fit senior centre-backs at the moment. That gives Gadzhalov just nine days to get back to fitness before Aberdeen visit in the Premiership next Friday. The Bulgarian was replaced by Ian Smith with former Celtic kid Daniel Higgins slotting in at centre-back. And the 18-year-old stood out for the Dark Blues against the League Two side and could be in line to deputise for Darren O’Dea and Kevin Gomis next week. Aside from the injury, it was an enjoyable night for the Dark Blues in freezing temperatures in Forfar as a first-half Danny Williams goal was added to by a Faissal El Bakhtaoui brace in the second period. Josh Peters had made it 1-1 before the French-Moroccan fired in two impressive strikes. A mixture of first team and Development players took on the League Two side in an entertaining contest watched by a good crowd despite the frosty weather. El Bakhtaoui had an early chance only to see his effort saved by the feet of former Dundee keeper Grant Adam. The 24-year-old had another decent chance shortly after before man-of-the-night Fotheringham brought a good save from Dee keeper David Mitchell from a free-kick. Then, on the half-hour mark Sam Dryden’s cross fell to Williams’ feet and the winger who began the game as a striker, fired in low. They weren’t ahead for long, though, as Peters rounded Mitchell and knocked into the net on 35 minutes. The second-half saw the introduction of 16-year-old Brian Rice, who had been at school during the day, at left-back. And 10 minutes after the break, the scoring was finished as El Bakhtaoui sped past the home defence to fire past Adam and then smashed into the top corner from 25 yards. The match was disrupted with a host of substitutions before the man of the hour Fotheringham departed to a standing ovation minutes before the final whistle sounded.
  5. 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. The big Bulgarian defender joined the Dark Blues in the 2015 January transfer window. Until recently, the 27-year-old had been restricted to cameo appearances as he struggled to nail down a regular place in the team. Now, though he has started the last four games for a resurgent Dundee side and has formed a formidable partnership in a back three alongside skipper Darren O’Dea and Frenchman Kevin Gomis. Gadzhalov, who memorably scored against Dundee United in a certain derby back in May, doubled his tally for the Dark Blues on Saturday against Inverness and his manager is full of praise for the no-nonsense defender. Hartley said: “Kosta’s been good and has never let us down – he’s been reliable. “He has had to wait for his chance but any time he has come in he has always done a great job. “His English is also a lot better. He struggled with that when he first came in. “But over the last year or so, it has been good. I think he took some lessons. “When you are in a dressing-room with English-speaking players, then you do pick it up but he also worked at it. “His wife is here and he has a young baby now. “He is a great lad to work with. He is pleasant, he works hard and you know what you are getting from him. “He is getting a run in the team now and he seems to be enjoying it. “I think you are seeing this season that his concentration levels have been a lot better. “I think the three centre-halves have been solid.”
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