Almost a year to the day since he made his league debut in Dingwall, playing in an unfamiliar attacking-midfield role, Mark O’Hara says he is happy to slot-in anywhere ahead of Dundee’s Premiership opener against Ross County today.
The 21-year-old started out as a versatile right-sided defender at Kilmarnock, until former Dark Blues boss Paul Hartley transformed O’Hara into a marauding midfielder upon bringing him to Dens.
With injuries to James McPake, Julen Extabeguren and Kosta Gadzhalov — current Dee boss Neil McCann has put his faith in youngsters Kerr Waddell and Jack Hendry to partner captain Darren O’Dea in central defence.
But O’Hara says, if called upon, he is capable of filling in at the back.
“There’s plenty of options, but if called upon, I’m more than happy to play there for the team,” O’Hara said.
“It’s never really been spoken about but I’m more than happy to slot in for the team and do the best that I can.
“I think we’ve got plenty of options in there, obviously Kerr (Waddell) has done brilliant the last couple of games and hopefully we’ll have another few boys back soon.”
Following Sunday’s 1-1 derby draw, O’Hara revealed that the Dark Blues have been put through their paces by Neil — a man with an unrelenting desire to win.
“Training’s been hard work,” O’Hara said.
“We’ve been putting it in all week, obviously with the Ross County game coming up, that’s the priority right now.
“We’ve been working hard on how we want to play — to continue with the best bits that we’ve done in the Betfred Cup games.
“We were in Monday and Tuesday straight after the derby. I think it’s important, the manager said he wants a full week’s training before the first SPFL game to set us off on the right tone.
“We’re in working hard this week.
“The manager’s trying to install that into us.
“As soon as he came in through the door it’s been about a winning mentality and I think we’ve established that.”
Dundee’s opponents today, Ross County, managed to break the Premiership top six two seasons ago — winning the League Cup in the process.
And O’Hara believes now is the time for Dundee to do the same.
“I think now we need to be targeting top six this year — a club of this size should definitely be there and the manager is just trying to install that into us.
“Just look at Ross County, they’ve won a cup within the last couple of years as well.
And that’s something we want to emulate.
“It’s a big game and hopefully we can get off to a good start.”
To achieve these goals this season Dundee will have to fight on all fronts.
And although the focus this week has been on the Ross County game, O’Hara admits that the lure of Wednesday’s Betfred Cup derby re-run is hard to keep your mind off.
“It’s got a different feel to it this time — the last time we were both more or less through,” O’Hara said.
A derby is always feisty, but this time it’s proper cup football, knockout, so everything is on the line.
“Everyone’s buzzing for it already, yesterday we saw the fans queueing outside for tickets so there’s a real buzz about the place.”