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Dundee V Kilmarnock at Dens Park Stadium : Match Preview

26 Jan 2013 14:01:26

Dundee V Kilmarnock at Dens Park Stadium : Match Preview

Dundee V Kilmarnock - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.


Smith has reasons to be cheerful

Dundee manager Barry Smith insists last week's endeavours at Hibernian confirmed his view that relegation is far from a foregone conclusion.

The Taysiders are well adrift at the bottom of the Clydesdale Bank Premier League table and odds-on to return to the Irn-Bru First Division.

But Smith saw enough in last week's 1-1 draw at Easter Road to give him further hope that his side can start narrowing the gap - starting against Kilmarnock.

"We definitely still have the belief," he said.

"We are totally focused on getting off the bottom of the league. The dressing room has the confidence - not arrogance - that we can do that.

"We took a lot of encouragement from last week. We were positive from the first minute.

"Easter Road is not an easy place to go but we put them under pressure, especially in the first half and we need to take that into our home games, again tomorrow.

"We have found out that mistakes are punished and if you are not consistent then you will get found out.

"We know what we have to do, we have to start picking up three points at home tomorrow.

"Kilmarnock have been up and down but they have dangerous players, like (Paul) Heffernan who is a real danger in attack.

"They like to get the ball down and play, so hopefully it will be an attractive game."

Smith added further cause for optimism by buying playmaker Gary Harkins from Kilmarnock on Friday, although he will not be able to face his former club as a condition of the deal.

Smith said: "We all know the quality he has and he is a great character to have on and off the pitch as well.

"He is once more showing his commitment to the cause here at Dens Park and I know he was loved by the Dundee fans during his last spell.

"I'm also very pleased to have had the backing I have received by the board of directors in our pursuit of Gary as it wasn't easy and other clubs also tried hard to secure his services."

Chief executive Scot Gardiner added: "We have been working on this deal tirelessly for weeks now in the face of fierce opposition and I'm over the moon to finally put things to bed.

"Gary is ecstatic to be joining us as am I and we are laying down a marker on where we want to take the club."

Harkins trained with his team-mates today and is looking forward to returning to a dark blue jersey against Hearts at Tynecastle on Wednesday.

"The deal took a while but I'm happy to get it done and I'm glad to be back," Harkins told DFCTV.

"I'm delighted to be back and just looking forward to playing in front of this crowd.

"It's still a good dressing room and it's good to come in and see the boys."

Dundee wide man Nicky Riley is "touch and go" for the game. Smith revealed that Riley was still struggling with a calf problem.

Meanwhile, striker Martin Boyle has joined Montrose on loan until the end of the season.

Kilmarnock midfielder Danny Racchi has paid tribute to departed team-mate Harkins as one of the most skilful players he has seen - although his first impression of the playmaker was less favourable.

The 28-year-old midfielder had fallen out of favour at Rugby Park but just last week Killie manager Kenny Shiels described the former Blackburn Rovers and Partick Thistle midfielder as one of the best players in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League.

Racchi told Press Association Sport: "Gary is one of the most comfortable players on the ball I've ever seen.

"You wouldn't think that the first time you see him though, he looks like a drunk.

"He will hate me for saying that but I respect him as a player. He's the type who always catches my eye."

Kilmarnock travel to face a Dundee side currently stuck 11 points from safety at the bottom of the SPL.

The visitors, on the other hand, are just two points off the top six having played a game less than most of their rivals in the upper half of the division.

Racchi, though, believes those numbers do not tell the whole story.

He said: "This is our game in hand and hopefully we can go to Dens Park and get the three points.

"It is about time that we started climbing the table, it's about time we started closing in on the teams above us and put them under a bit of pressure, rather than them putting pressure on us.

"We're a better side than our league position suggests but we need to prove that."

Former Celtic midfielder Rabiu Ibrahim is available for selection for the Dens Park encounter after Kilmarnock confirmed they had finalised the Nigerian's work permit issues.


PA

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