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Dundee boss Paul Hartley dealt Paul McGowan fitness blow


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Dundee boss Paul Hartley has been dealt a fitness blow with the news that Paul McGowan will miss the first three or four games of the season.

The influential midfielder suffered a serious shoulder injury at the back end of the last campaign.

And, despite positive noises to the contrary, it looks as if McGowan will not take part in much of the Dark Blues’ pre-season.

It’s also likely he will play no part in Dundee’s League Cup campaign — at the regionalised group stage, anyway.

Confirming the news, Paul said: “McGowan will probably miss three or four games.

“He will probably sit out the League Cup so there are places up for grabs.”

The 28-year-old former Celtic and St Mirren man’s prognosis is a blow to the gaffer’s plans for the start of next season.

Despite a patchy summer and start to the 2015/16 campaign, McGowan established himself as an integral part of Dundee’s starting XI as the season wore on, forming a solid, if far from flashy, partnership with Nick Ross.

His level of consistency and quality even saw him put forward by the manager as a candidate to replace Kevin Thomson, Gary Irvine and James McPake as skipper, although, the role was eventually handed to Gary Harkins, and then to Darren O’Dea.

While it is a blow to lose McGowan early doors, Paul is not short of options in that area.

James Vincent, Gary Harkins, Danny Williams, Nick Ross and newest recruit Mark O’Hara can all do a job in there, as can defenders Julen Etxabeguren and Kosta Gadzhalov.

The gaffer is pleased with the amount of competition he has within his squad this year.

And he has thrown down the gauntlet to his players, saying it’s up to them to prove they’re worth a spot in the Dundee team.

He said: “I think it is who performs best in pre-season.

“We want to have a tight squad this season — we won’t have a big group.

“We will probably work with 20 to 21 players.

“I don’t think there is any point having five or six players sitting it out every week.

“That just causes you more problems.

“So the group will be tight but we had a real spirit and togetherness last season and, hopefully, we will have that again.”

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