Dundee V Ross County at Dens Park Stadium : Match Preview

07 February 2013 05:01
Dundee V Ross County - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

Smith looking for ways to break down County

Dundee manager Barry Smith insists the onus is on his side to break down Ross County in Friday night's Clydesdale Bank Premier League match at Dens Park.

The Dark Blues welcome County to Tayside knowing they have a 14-point gap to cut at the foot of the table in their attempt to stave off the threat of relegation. The SPL's bottom club face a stiff test against the Staggies, who have earned themselves a reputation for being experts at shutting up shop away from home.

Smith watched his side defeat Morton 5-1 in the Scottish Cup last weekend and hopes to see them build on that by beating Derek Adams' men.

"County will come here and try to keep things tight so it will be up to us to get the better of them," Smith said. "They've proved this season that they can be a very difficult side to break down away from home. All credit to them for that but we're the home team, and we'll be looking to go out there and get a positive result against one of the teams round about us in the table.

"It will be a very difficult match but we have to believe we can do it and I have faith in these players."

Dundee are desperate to make up some much-needed ground in their fight for survival, but Smith has played down talk of the game being must-win for the Taysiders. He said: "Every game is big for us between now and the end of the season.

"It's been like that all season where we've gone into all games focusing on trying to get the three points. There is no more added pressure going into this game than there has been in any other one.

"The players have had a good week's training so are really looking forward to the game. Our last game against them ended in a draw up there and there was nothing between the two sides. We've just got to make sure that whenever we get chances in front of goal we have to take them."

Dundee's confidence is high after sweeping past Morton, which Smith hopes can be a factor on the night. He said: "It's given the lads a boost. And the goals were spread around as well which is always encouraging from any teams' point of view.

"We want the fans to rally round and really help the boys as they can make so much difference on the night."

Midfielder Gary Harkins returns to the squad after being cup-tied for the victory over Morton.

The hosts are still without Stephen O'Donnell, Davide Grassi, Carl Finnegan, Mark Kerr (all knee) and Jamie McCluskey (Achilles).

Ross County manager Derek Adams challenged his players to move into the top half of the table after winning the manager of the month award.

County secured victories over St Mirren and Hibernian in January as well as drawing against Dundee United at Tannadice.

Their 2-2 draw against Hearts last weekend stretched their unbeaten run to five matches and they could move into the top six of the SPL if they beat Dundee.

Victory would put them level on points with sixth-placed Aberdeen, who are two goals better off than the Dingwall side. After collecting his award, Adams said: "I'm delighted. It just shows the good work the players have had over January.

"We had a very good month and after the winter break we came back and performed well. We want to keep on going and winning games and when we do that it's great for the football club to get recognition.

"The players do the hard work on the park and the backroom staff work hard off the park and it's good for myself and the club, it's another award."

Winger Ivan Sproule remains a major doubt.

Sproule will be given every chance of making the clash but Adams fears the game might come too soon.

Adams otherwise has a full squad with Stuart Kettlewell fit again following a hamstring injury.

Source: PA