Dundee manager James McPake can see signs the Dark Blues are getting the “dominant” Josh Meekings back – if he can keep himself on the training pitch.
Scottish Cup-winner Meekings has struggled throughout his time at Dens Park to maintain his fitness for an extended period of time.
However, the Dark Blues and their skipper are hoping those days are behind the 27-year-old now.
His manager would like to give his skipper a run of games after treating Meekings with a feather touch this campaign – last Saturday’s start in the 2-0 win over Arbroath was just his second league one of the season.
And he topped that up last night with an hour in a bounce game at Forfar alongside other first-teamers Cammy Kerr, Sean Mackie, Paul McGowan, Andrew Nelson, Danny Johnson, Fin Robertson and Josh Todd.
After the game, boss James said: “The game was a good exercise for us.
“We got more minutes into Josh and Paul McGowan along with others who have missed out in recent weeks.
“It was a good chance to top them up ahead of another big week for us.”
On Meekings, the Dens gaffer added: “Josh has been out so long he can’t get a run and the consistency that comes with that.
“We have tried to ease him in but it’s never easy bringing a centre-back on in a game because it’s usually for an injury. You don’t like to change your centre-backs.
“He has worked away and has probably trained for a longer period of time than he has here for a while.
“That’s the big thing. Get him training consistently then you can see the benefit.
“In the second half last Saturday he was excellent, both centre-halfs were. They were really dominant and in control and never looked in any pressure in the second half.”
Meanwhile, the Dens gaffer hopes Declan McDaid’s double last week against the Red Lichties can give the former Ayr winger the “belief” to push on and add the goals he is capable of.
“Declan has been great,” James added. “We’ve all given him a bit about not scoring because he’s great in training.
“He’s positive, scores goals and takes people on. If you got our squad to pick three players that have to start every game I think most of them would pick Declan.
“Going backwards for a forward player is great for the team defensively and he deserved those goals against Arbroath because they have been coming.
“It’s about belief with him because he can be a match-winner and we need that.”