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Hartley Sets The Bar High For Dundee

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Source: The Evening Telegraph

The only way is up for Dundee’s Paul Hartley.

Despite the considerable success of last season, the manager has laid down a pre-season marker to his Dark Blues squad — collect more points, win more games, score more goals and, importantly, concede less next campaign. “We want to do better than we did last season,” he said. “It is a case of working out the areas where we can improve. We want more points, winning more games, scoring more goals and conceding less goals.

“The plan ahead is to build a team together and get them as fit as we can for the next 11 months.”

Sixth place was a solid end for both the team, on their return to the top flight, and the boss himself, on his maiden Premiership voyage. Much of the groundwork for what was achieved was done in the sizzling heat of a Central European summer. And Paul admits he’s delighted the club has backed his squad again by sanctioning a summer training camp return to the Globall Football Park, Budapest. “To get the players away is ideal,” said Paul. “We want them all to get together and learn about each other. Gel all the personalities together so we have a tight group here. “It was a big benefit for us last year — we hope it will be the same this time around.”

Paul is a veteran of many a pre-season himself in a playing career that stretched across 11 clubs from Celtic, Hearts, Aberdeen and St Johnstone to Bristol City and Millwall south of the border. It’s fair to say he knows a thing or two about what is required across a summer. And long gone are the days of players coming back out of shape. Paul says this is the most impressive he has ever seen the fitness of a returning group.

He said: “The players have come back in great nick. “Everybody was at it in the testing, so we are very pleased with the players’ performance. You just don’t see that anymore. “The rest period used to be eight or nine weeks — it’s nowhere near that now. Four weeks was perfect. The players had a two-week break then they had a programme to follow. “The commitment and attitude was excellent on their return — it wasn’t easy the plan we had for them but they coped well. “The results, for a first day back, was as good as I have seen.”

Two players who some were hoping would be back for pre-season were Jim McAlister and Stephen McGinn. Paul clarified the situation. He said: “They are not back. I just have to try to concentrate on the players I have back here. “I have no idea what is going to happen in that situation. “It’s not in my hands right now.”

One player who has been excused the traditional pre-season beasting is goalie Scott Bain. The 23-year-old has missed the last two days of sessions in the club’s Dundonald Street indoor facility after only recently recovering from a knee injury which saw his chances of a maiden Scotland squad call-up dashed in the summer. Paul said his prized-asset will be eased back into training before being thrown in at the deep end in the Hungarian heat on Monday.  The manager said: “We’re just easing Scott back in. He is not training but will be on the flight with us to Budapest. He has had no problems with the knee. “It is just a case of working with the physio for a few days and then starting again on Monday.”

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