Dundee are finally ready to get their Championship campaign up and running today against Arbroath according to full-back Jordan Marshall.
Despite being one of the pre-season favourites to challenge Hearts at the top of the table, the Dark Blues have stumbled out of the blocks.
Just one win and a meagre five points from a possible 15 has left James McPake’s men playing catch-up with the leaders.
There has been no momentum as yet from Dundee and Marshall knows more than most how vital that is in the second tier.
The left-back has played his entire career in the Championship, enjoying four seasons at Queen of the South before signing at Dens Park last summer.
Marshall returned from a long-term thigh injury at the start of this season after missing the end of last term where the Dark Blues went on a six-match unbeaten streak before the pandemic struck.
And he’s challenged his team-mates to get that sort of form going again now, starting this afternoon against the Red Lichties.
He said: “We’ve had injuries and boys have been self-isolating and things like that so I don’t think we’ve all been together as a full squad yet.
“There aren’t many left to come back now.
“Last week there was only Danny Mullen missing and he’s back now and we feel when everyone is fit we have a really good squad.
“We know that but we need to show it on the pitch a bit more.
“The gaffer has assembled a great squad on paper. We see it in training all the time.
“For some reason in games it hasn’t clicked yet and we haven’t been consistent enough.
“We do really need to kick on now.
“This league is always about momentum and once you get a couple of wins together you can really kick on.
“The boys really did that when I was injured last year and were unbeaten for six before Covid hit.
“We’re looking to try and do that again.”
Marshall played alongside new signing Liam Fontaine for the first time at Easter Road last weekend as Dundee were knocked out of the Betfred Cup by high-flying Hibs.
Conceding goals on the road has been the Achilles heel of the Dark Blues this term with 14 conceded in four away trips before the second game at Hibs.
One of those was a 4-1 thumping dished out by Jack Ross’s side just a fortnight previously.
However, despite falling to their third defeat on the bounce, the Dundee squad came out of the 1-0 reverse with a much more positive mindset after an improved display.
For Marshall & Co., the challenge this afternoon is to repeat the performance levels from Easter Road but also have a victory to celebrate at the final whistle.
And having experience at the back like former Bristol City, Hibs and Ross County man Fontaine will only help that says Marshall.
“Fontaine played next to me at Hibs and I thought he was brilliant, he was a rock,” the full-back added.
“He’s an experienced player who has played a lot of games in the Championship down in England and it’s good to play alongside someone with that kind of experience.
“The performance at Hibs was good but everyone was gutted we didn’t get through because I think we deserved at least a draw.
“Take it to extra-time and anything can happen.
“We are looking to take that sort of performance into the game against Arbroath which should, hopefully, get us a win.
“We use that Hibs performance as a benchmark, we can’t let our standards drop.
“If we can do that going to a team like Hibs, there’s no reason we shouldn’t be winning week in, week out in the Championship.”
In contrast to their away form, Dundee’s results at Dens have been good so far this term.
They have conceded just one goal – a poor one that cost two points at home to Raith Rovers – in three matches with victories over Morton and Cove Rangers.
And Marshall says home comforts might just be what the Dark Blues need to get back to winning ways.
“It feels like we haven’t played at Dens in ages and we have been quite good at home,” he said.
“We should have beaten Raith.
“We want to make this a horrible place to come.
“Teams come here and treat this as a big game because Dundee is a massive club compared to others in this league.
“So when teams come here they are right at it so we need to make sure we’re on it.
“We’ll need to do that today because Arbroath are a good team.
“I watched them against Hearts and they work really hard, are strong defensively but have players who can hurt you going forward.”
Despite having a longer spell away from football than most this year, having been struck down by that thigh injury in January, Marshall has had plenty on his plate.
The arrival of baby girl Harley has kept Marshall and partner Kerry very busy through lockdown and all the restrictions that have come from the coronavirus crisis.
At times, though, Marshall jokes he’s glad to be away playing football rather than enduring sleepness nights.
He added: “Yeah, we had a baby girl in June during lockdown.
“Lockdown was a bit of a blessing for me because I got to spend time with her.
“I stay up here and they are down south so I only get to see her a few days a week when I’m playing.
“That can be tough but I need to get on with it – I do this for my missus and the little one.
“I’ve been quite lucky because I don’t have to do any of the night feeding up here!
“I get off with that stuff and always get abuse from the missus saying I’ve got it easy!”