There will be no squad overhaul for Dundee this summer as they prepare for life back in the Premiership next season.
The Dark Blues secured their place at the top table of Scottish football by beating Kilmarnock in the play-off final.
And manager James McPake insists he plans to be loyal to the “fantastic” group of players who achieved their dream after two years in the Championship.
A few of the squad are yet to have their futures confirmed with the likes of Cammy Kerr, Liam Fontaine, Osman Sow, Adam Legzdins, Jack Hamilton and Calum Ferrie out of contract this summer.
McPake says he will strengthen his side for the step up but wants to reward the players who made promotion possible.
“The aims for next season I said in my very first interview,” the Dens boss said.
“I wanted to build a team to get out of this league and then go and compete in the Premiership.
“Now, we’re out of the league we need to go and compete.
“We will strengthen but I want to be loyal to the ones here because they’ve been fantastic for the football club.
“We have a fantastic group of players and fantastic people at the club. It’s a fantastic time to be at this club.
“We will strengthen because it’s a tougher league but I want to be loyal.”
‘I was under severe pressure’
The Dark Blues stormed through the latter part of the season, losing just one league match in the final 12 of the season.
That came in the second leg of the play-off semi-final against Raith Rovers with Dundee already 3-0 up from the first leg.
Eight of those matches were victories with an aggregate score of 24-8 across the dozen games.
McPake, though, admits he felt under “severe pressure” at the start of that run.
The previous match was a disappointing 3-1 home defeat to Ayr United at Dens Park where the Dark Blues were well beaten by the struggling Honest Men.
However, they responded in perfect fashion with a 3-0 win at Alloa thanks to two goals from Lee Ashcroft and a third from Max Anderson.
Though he says there wasn’t a point where everything started to click for the Dark Blues, getting key players back to fitness played a huge role in changing their fortunes.
“When we got everybody back I think it made the difference,” McPake added.
“(Jordan) McGhee’s injury was a big one. Getting him back and Charlie (Adam) coming back to form after Covid and everything.
“I knew if I could get all the players fit we would have a real chance because I could see how hard they were working.
“There wasn’t a moment where it switched and I thought wow.
“The Alloa game was closest to that because I was under severe pressure, that’s the night I felt it the most, but we won 3-0.
“There wasn’t a turning moment. I think it was just getting the players back.
“I told them that on Monday, just look over your shoulders and see the quality you have beside you.
“You’ll realise you have proper players in your team, now go and play and win the game. They did it.”
Following that Ayr defeat, as manager McPake drew the brunt of criticism from a frustrated fanbase as they saw promotion hopes fade.
However, the former club captain says there was no desire to prove people wrong about his managerial ability.
His aim was to turn that passion from supporters into a driving force behind the team.
“Criticism is criticism. I played for Dundee and have been criticised for bad results so I know how passionate the fans are – I love that,” McPake said.
“If we’re getting beaten 3-1 by Ayr United at home then I expect criticism.
“I’m not afraid to fail and I’m certainly not afraid of asking questions to Gordon Strachan, Chris Coleman, Andy O’Boyle, Dave Mackay and the people I turn to.
“I’m name-dropping a bit here but I’m never afraid to ask questions and never afraid to put a team out.
“I think with failure you learn.
“I’m a young manager but I have a group of senior players who have helped me and a backroom staff who have helped massively over the season.
“And there’s the people at the top of the club who have helped me from day one.
“I’m over the moon.”