James McPake has revealed the Covid-19 chaos that hit his Dundee side 24 hours ahead of their 2-2 draw at Greenock Morton.
The Dark Blues came from behind twice at Cappielow – with goals from Jason Cummings and Danny Mullen – to stop a run of straight defeats, though they remain without a win in four.
And they were without talisman Charlie Adam after he tested positive for coronavirus in the build-up to the contest.
There was also confusion over the availability of centre-back Liam Fontaine after he was initially told to self-isolate along with physio Gerry Docherty, while training on Friday was cancelled.
And McPake says it was a challenging time for everybody at the club.
“It was a tough 24 hours for us,” the Dens boss said.
“On Friday Liam Fontaine didn’t think he was playing. We lost one of our most influential players (Adam) through Covid and we have no physio so it’s been tough.
“On top of that we were told we couldn’t train on Friday.
“I’m not using that as an excuse for our performance because the three games we’ve gone to Cappielow, that’s probably the best we’ve handled them.
“Who knows if the preparation on Friday would have helped? What didn’t help was not knowing.
“I think it was 11am we got the OK that Fontaine could play and wasn’t a close contact.
“It was a challenging 24-and-a-bit hours.
As a manager, I’ve had defeats, heavy defeats, and there have been times going home and wondering if this is really for me.
“You watch the game four or five times to find the answer.
“The 28 hours or so before Saturday’s game was completely new to me. At 10 to 11 on Friday I still didn’t know my team. It’s certainly not been an easy time.
“We have to thank Morton for helping us because their physio covered us as well during the game.
“We also had a worry over Lee Ashcroft and it felt like Raith Rovers all over again.”
Blow to lose Charlie Adam
With fixtures piled up over the next few weeks thanks to a host of recent call-offs, Dundee will be without Adam for some key games.
Though he admits it was a blow to lose his captain, McPake is confident he has the squad to cope with the absence of the former Scotland midfielder.
“It was going to happen that we’d be without Charlie,” he added.
“The club have done everything right with the protections and we don’t know where Charlie picked it up.
“He was negative on Tuesday, then tested again Thursday for this Tuesday’s game and got the results on Friday morning and he was positive.
“We have been hit by Covid before but Friday was different. It was a real challenge and I think the group dealt with it pretty well even though we didn’t get the result we wanted.
“Charlie will be a miss but that’s football, we will have to live without him.
“He is a big influence on our team but we’ve got a big squad.”
‘Gutted we didn’t win’
As for the draw at Morton, McPake is disappointed by the concession of two more goals and coming away with just one point from Cappielow.
“I’m gutted we didn’t win with the chances we had,” he added.
“The first strike is a great goal, the second one was poor from us. You know what Morton will throw at you.
“I thought Lee Ashcroft in particular was outstanding in a game that was a throwback to being a proper centre-half. Liam Fontaine won a fair share as well.
🎥 | Subscribers can watch the full match replay of our match against Morton, highlights and post match interviews with James McPake and Danny Mullen on DeeTV #thedee
— Dundee Football Club (@DundeeFC) February 28, 2021
“I think we dealt with most of what they threw at us but ultimately we came away with a point when we wanted three.
“We dug in and didn’t give up but we do need to stop conceding goals.
“We stopped the defeats first and foremost, fans don’t want to hear that but it’s important.
“Sometimes you are on a bad run but then you get that draw and then a run of wins.
“That’s what we need now.”