James McPake has revealed that he could have chosen to risk Paul McMullan against Livingston — but followed medical advice.
The Dundee boss alleviated fears that the winger may miss next week’s derby clash against United by confirming that the in-form 25-year-old was close to lining up against the Lions.
But the danger of exacerbating his slight knock was deemed too great, and McPake readily concedes that the Dee missed McMullan’s creative spark on the flank.
He said: “Paul was out with a slight injury. Thankfully it wasn’t Covid this time — touch wood that doesn’t appear this week!
“Could we have risked him? Yes. But we went on the advice of the physio and doctor.
“I think you see what you miss when Paul isn’t there. He would have been a real threat to Livingston.”
The prodigal son
Dundee were, however, able to call upon the attacking talents of Leigh Griffiths, who played the entire match in a frustrating 0-0 draw.
The on-loan Celtic forward was denied a dream goal in the second half when a deflected drive was clawed away by Livi goalkeeper Max Stryjek, while he cut an energetic figure in his first full 90 minutes since March 7, 2020.
McPake continued: “I’ve known Leigh all my life and have watched him in training — he’ll always carry a threat.
“I was delighted to get him through 90 minutes without injury. That’s always a risk when he hasn’t played 90 minutes for so long, but that will have done him the world of good.
“He’s trained hard and, although the sharpness still has to come, we’ll work on that during the week.
“Leigh was a threat, forced a brilliant save from the goalie and I’m delighted he got through the game.”
Griffiths’ missed opportunity was one of several spurned chances, with Jordan McGhee, Ryan Sweeney and Max Anderson all denied during a maddening stalemate.
And McPake admits his side — still winless in the league — must start taking their chances.
He added: “I thought we created good, clear-cut chances but at this level, I think the players now realise that you need to take at least one of those.
“In the Championship, you might get another four or five opportunities — but not at this level.”