The signing of Charlie Adam for Dundee this week may have stolen the headlines but manager James McPake was quick to praise another new recruit after a 1-0 friendly win over Peterhead.
The warm-up clash at an empty Dens Park on Tuesday night was the first outing for the Dark Blues since the 2019/20 season was brought to an early halt back in March.
And it was also a first run-out for new signings Lee Ashcroft and Alex Jakubiak. Both performed well with striker Jakubiak setting up the only goal of the game, scored by Paul McGowan.
However, it was centre-back Ashcroft who pleased McPake most.
He said: “I thought both Alex and Lee were really good on Tuesday. They were both involved in the inter-squad game on Saturday but Tuesday was the first time they’d even been in the dressing-room.
“I thought Lee Ashcroft and Jordan McGhee were very good, Jakubiak was good in his 65 minutes.
“Lee I tried to get in almost as soon as I got the job. He’s played a lot of football for someone who is young in centre half terms.
“He’s a unit and you can see the presence he has, he’s vocal and will add to our squad.
“I’ve been delighted with him since he walked into the building. He’s a leader and we need more of that and I think he’ll be a success at the football club.”
As for the contest itself, McPake was delighted to see his team back out on the park after so long out and, even if the performance wasn’t perfect, seeing a win to kick off pre-season.
He added: “We’ve ticked some boxes and move on to the next one, we got a win and a clean sheet which is important. That’s the mentality we are working towards.
“I was really pleased. The first thing you look for is fitness and minutes for the players and to get through with no injuries, we got that.
“We’re just at the start of our third week back after a five-month lay-off so of course we were rusty.
“The players were frustrated but I was really happy with what we got out of the game.
“It’s not easy being a player and having that length of time off and then coming back into a different environment with no fans.
“Usually when a player comes back from that length of time after a cruciate injury or something there is surgery and rehab and things but the guys have been working through the time off.
“They all came back in fantastic condition and that is credit to the players and the conditioning they did throughout the time off. I think that accelerated the work we were allowed to do in the first few weeks.
“We’re still early in our preparations and you could see that against Peterhead where it wasn’t quite clicking at times. The big thing that night was just getting back out on the pitch and getting a feel for things.
“We managed with no injuries. We have a couple who are clearly missing, they’ve got little knocks, but we haven’t picked a serious one up as of yet.”
Former Celtic kid Daniel Church is continuing his trial period at the club, having trained over the past couple of weeks, after starting the Peterhead clash at left-back.
“He did well. I think he showed something and we’ll continue to assess him,” McPake added.