Dundee boss James McPake has some tricky decisions to make this weekend as he chooses between his “Premiership quality” strikeforce.
Kane Hemmings missed Sunday’s Betfred Cup clash with Aberdeen but the Dens gaffer admitted the frontman was so good in training yesterday it made him doubt his decision to protect him from further injury.
In his absence, Danny Johnson excelled, with a Man-of-the-Match performance and his fourth goal in four games from the penalty spot.
And Andrew Nelson put in a shift off the bench for the final half-hour after replacing the former Motherwell man.
Deciding between those three is a tough task but one McPake is delighted to have.
He said: “Danny was great but that wasn’t a surprise to me.
“I was pleased to see Derek McInnes’ comments through the week that our partnership up front was Premiership quality – I’d add Andrew Nelson into that as well because he’s been different class.
“He’s frustrated because he’s a striker and he wants to play and score goals but the way he worked and the way he works in training as well.
“It’s good when you hear stuff like that and I do believe it is true.
“Kane Hemmings is real quality, Danny Johnson the same, Neller is younger but he’s getting there.
“I really like him and young Michael Cunningham is there or thereabouts as well.
“Johnson was unlucky to hit the post as well on Sunday but we know what he brings.
“I know what Kane Hemmings brings as well and we’re delighted he’s back.
“That’s good. Is it a problem that we have good players in all the positions? No, it’s great!
“We now know if you play well, you stay in the team and you can see that in training.”
Despite coming out on the wrong side of the result on Sunday, McPake says he’s noticed a difference in training this week after running the Dons so close.
Dundee have rightly picked up lots of plaudits for the way they went about the game on Sunday.
The manager insists that’s all down to the players and their attitude towards their work.
He said: “To me they now do believe fully in what we have been doing.
“We have seen it in different stages, in the second half against Dunfermline, in parts against Ayr and then for 90 minutes against Aberdeen it was the performance we had been asking for.
“That’s down to the players – it has nothing to do with what we are doing. It is completely down to the work they have done through pre-season.
“The only issues were with Jamie Ness and Josh Todd. I had to protect them because they have missed bits and they are so important. That’s on me.
“Kane Hemmings could have played but again it was too important to risk him. Then I watched him at training and I was thinking should I have played him because he was outstanding.
“Again, I will stand by that. I don’t know if it is because I have had injuries but I wouldn’t say I am overprotective.”
The club are still on the lookout for a couple of faces to add to his squad but he is happy with the business so far with Rangers kid Josh McPake joining on loan yesterday (see right).
“When you talk about building a good squad it is not just to have as many players as I can, we need a squad that’s capable and I think Sunday showed that.
“We were a bit short but thankfully, having Kane back, and the board bringing Josh McPake in adds to that.”