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NEWS: CALUM WOODGER: Coming off the phone to former Dundee striker John Sutton this week, I couldn’t help but feel positive about what the Dark Blues are building

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Coming off the phone to former Dundee striker John Sutton this week, I couldn’t help but feel positive about what the Dark Blues are building ahead of the coming season.

The Dee already had a strong, experienced squad with plenty nous, know-how and success playing at Championship level.

And, speaking to Sutton about former team-mates Charlie Adam and Danny Mullen, I got the sense they could be adding another with the same character and, crucially, a second-tier winner.

I say ‘could’ in Adam’s case, with the former Liverpool and Rangers man not yet signed by the club at the time of writing, but even having a man like Mullen rolling into Dens Park should inspire confidence among the support.

Hearts will be massive favourites, and rightly so given the size of the club, their budget and the credentials of boss Robbie Neilson – a two-time Championship winner himself.

But Dundee can’t be counted out the title fight before a ball is kicked, particularly with men like Mullen and, hopefully, Adam in their ranks.

They will be ready for the battle as – along with Jordan McGhee, Jordon Forster, Shaun Byrne and Christie Elliott – they’re promotion winners at this level.

Mullen’s day in the sun was more recent, lifting the title with St Mirren under Jack Ross in 2018.

However, what most people forget is Adam did the same with the Paisley men, also playing alongside Sutton, in Gus MacPherson’s 2006 champion side.

As a young Rangers loanee, the Dundonian lit up the league.

Goals from range were a regular occurrence, free-kicks, dazzling skills and many half-way line efforts were scattered in there, too.

Not only was the spectacular in midfielder’s locker back then, he had the grit needed to come through in the lower reaches of our game.

Charlie Adam has played 26 times for Scotland.
Charlie Adam has played 26 times for Scotland.

This writer recalls one particular incident, watching on as a young supporter, of Adam, quite literally, strutting his stuff at Spartans’ City Park for a Scottish Cup-tie.

It wasn’t the prettiest encounter, with the Edinburgh non-league side earning a stalemate and a replay against the First Division leaders.

Adam would go on to score in a 3-0 win at Love Street to put the Buddies through but, what always stuck out, was him running off the pitch at Spartans to change his shorts, bearing his backside to the some-4,000 in attendance, before rushing back to fly into a tackle.

At risk of being caught with my pants down, I’d say Charlie has what it takes to roll back the years.

Bringing Pavol Safranko back to Tannadice is a deal both parties should be pushing to make happen.

The Slovakian striker was a hit with the Arabs when on loan at the club from Danish side Aalborg in 2018/19.

Safranko’s goals, assists and incredible work rate and desire dragged a struggling Dundee United team to the Premiership Play-off Final.

Sadly, we all know how that turned out.

Pavol Safranko in action for Dundee United.

A year on, however, and, although a lot of the personnel is the same, the Tangerines are in a far better place – promoted to the Premiership and hopeful under Micky Mellon’s leadership.

Knowing the club like he does, having the adoration of the fans and working so well with the likes of Paul McMullan and Nicky Clark in his time with the Terrors, should make a return a no-brainer for Safranko and the club.

Money could, of course, prove a huge stumbling block with the 25-year-old’s Romanian club Sepsi quoting a six-figure fee just to take the forward on loan.

However, for all the surroundings may be similar for Safranko, things are different now and my feeling is United will push the boat out to get their man.

Scotland’s Nations League draw with Israel last night was always going to be an
interesting watch.

After such a long wait to see the national team in action, with new faces like Lyndon Dykes and an unfamiliar system, it had promise.

Unfortunately, it was intriguing for all the wrong reasons.

There’s a long way to go to turn our individual stars into a team – but with the Euro 2021 play-off semi final next month we need to do it quickly.

It was great to see Andy Murray getting back towards his best after hip surgery.

Watching him at the US Open was like a window into the past – here’s hoping the 33-year-old can kick on and recapture old form.

Dundee new boy Danny Mullen says pressure is all on Hearts in Championship in 2020/21 as the two clubs prepare to go head to head

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