Dundee boss Jim McIntyre is delighted at Seny Dieng’s “seamless” introduction to top-flight Scottish football after losing No 1 goalie Jack Hamilton at the turn of the year.
The former Hearts stopper looked to have cemented his place as No 1 ahead of Elliott Parish at the tail end of last year with some good displays.
That all came to an end as we crossed into 2019, however, with news he’d require surgery to fix a broken finger and would be out of action for some time.
In stepped Swiss keeper Dieng on loan from QPR, a player not many this side of the border new much, if anything, about after a couple of loan moves to non-league clubs before spending the first half of this season at League Two Stevenage.
The 24-year-old’s lack of first-team football hasn’t held him back in his start to life at Dens Park, however, as he’s provided a commanding presence in his area and made some big saves when called upon.
Jim said: “It’s been pretty seamless and Seny deserves a lot of credit for that.
“He’s come into an environment he doesn’t know, a league he’s not played in before, he’s inexperienced in terms of game time but he’s come in and done exceptionally well.
“He’s done a lot of good things, some important saves at key times, no more so than against Kilmarnock.
“It’s great he hits the ground running like that.”
He added: “Any time you see a keeper coming for crosses it’s a good thing.
“He’s a big unit and covers the ground well, has really good reflexes and when the ball is hung up and he thinks he can get it, it’s good to have for your back four.”
That former Grasshoppers man Dieng has impressed so much means that when Hamilton recovers enough to be available for the first team again, he’ll have a job displacing the big goalie.
It’s been a month since news of Hamilton’s issue became apparent and that he’d been playing through the pain for the Dark Blues.
His manager has confirmed his recovery is “coming along fine” but he’s not expecting to have any returnees from injury when he takes his side to the Tony Macaroni Arena to face Livingston on Saturday.
That’ll be their first outing in 10 days after a free weekend following their Scottish Cup exit last month.
Jim said: “When you are a player you like having games coming thick and fast but in the period we’ve just had it’s great to have a break and have a chance to work on the training ground again.
“We’ve had a couple who have picked up wee knocks so it has been bitty in terms of having a full group together but nothing too major and we should be OK come the weekend.
“Young Ethan Robson picked up a wee bit of a groin strain and he’s nearly there. He hadn’t had a lot of regular football with injuries earlier in the season and you’re more susceptible to picking up wee things but it’s nothing too serious.
“Jesse Curran is coming on, he’s making progress.
“We were hopeful he might have a chance for Livingston but that’ll not be the case.
“Jack is coming along fine as well.”
Longer-term absentee Andrew Davies – yet to feature for his new club after breaking his foot in a bounce game days after signing last month – is heading south for treatment to speed up his recovery.
Jim added: “Davies is coming along brilliantly.
“He’ll go on to the anti-gravity treadmill next week down south which can really aid recovery.”