Dundee boss James McPake has held a crisis meeting with his squad over the defensive problems that have seen the club concede 13 goals in their last three away games.
At home the Dark Blues have only let in one goal in three matches but, heading to Ayr United in the Championship on Saturday, the Dens gaffer is determined to get things right on the road at Somerset Park.
After kicking off the campaign with a dreadful 6-2 hammering at the home of Hearts, more poor defending cost points in a 3-3 draw at Alloa before a six-minute spell at Hibs saw Dundee concede three times and lose out 4-1 in the Betfred Cup.
McPake has had to employ full-back Cammy Kerr as an emergency centre-half due to an injury to Jordon Forster and positive Covid test for Lee Ashcroft.
He is also considering a move for former Hibs and Ross County defender Liam Fontaine, who is currently on trial.
But the manager insists it is the basics of defending Dundee need to sharpen up on as a team, starting with the visit to the Honest Men.
“The defending for the goals has been disappointing,” McPake said.
“It is basic defensive errors we are making. But the good thing is we can work on that.
“We’ve had a meeting over the last couple of days with the players and they know that themselves.
“It is something we need to put right quickly because we can’t be conceding the goals we are conceding.
“We have been more of a threat going forward this season which, considering we’ve been missing three strikers, has been good.
“But it is at the other end we need to tighten up quickly – conceding three, four and six goals just isn’t sustainable.
“It’s the whole team who need to improve on that. The six minutes at Hibs came down solely to defending your box and so did the Alloa one with defending set-plays.
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“We need to put that right, we will do.
“We’ve got to get back to the drawing board and get better at the basics of defending.
“We have good defenders here but it’s getting the basics and fundamentals of defending right that makes you a good defender, we need to get back to that.
“We also scored a goal and then let the opposition go right up the other end and score themselves.
“We had a spell like that last year and we put that right, we have to do that again quickly.”
The Dark Blues are likely to welcome Lee Ashcroft back this weekend after he returned to training this week.
The former Dunfermline man pulled out of the Alloa match a fortnight ago and subsequently tested positive for Covid-19.
Since then the Dark Blues have scraped to that 3-3 draw in Clackmannanshire after being 3-1 down, saw off Cove Rangers 3-0 at Dens and then fell to a late collapse at Hibs last Sunday.
McPake is delighted to have two recognised centre-backs to call on once more with Ashcroft set to join skipper Jordan McGhee in the middle.
Forster, meanwhile, has been back running after suffering a broken bone in his foot at Hearts in early October.
Moving into the middle proved to be a difficult test for Kerr but McPake has nothing but praise for the full-back stepping into an uncomfortable position.
“It’s a tough job, particularly for someone who isn’t a recognised centre-back,” said McPake.
“Jordan McGhee is different because he grew up as a centre-back but has played full-back.
“For Cammy to come in against two good forwards in (Kevin) Nisbet and (Martin) Boyle on Sunday, barring a six-minute spell the two of them coped with the strikers really well.
“Those six minutes cost us the game, though, so it is irrelevant I suppose.
“It’ll be good to have Ashcroft back and Forster is working his way back as well.”