Leigh Griffiths, Jason Cummings, Cillian Sheridan, Danny Mullen, Alex Jakubiak – there’s a puzzle to solve for Dundee manager James McPake when all his frontmen are fit.
It’s a puzzle plenty of managers would love to have, too – how to get their dangermen on the pitch together.
Dundee fans are yet to see much of Mullen and Jakubiak this season due to injury and illness.
But what are the options for the Dens Park manager?
Begin with the main man – when fit and ready, Griffiths will start no question. Up to speed, he’s an international quality striker.
McPake said of him this week: “He can play the lone striker role, he can play in a two, he can score a lot of headers.
— Dundee Football Club (@DundeeFC) August 31, 2021
“He scores all types of goals, tap ins, headers, penalties, goals from obscene angles.
“He is the best striker I have ever played with.”
In McPake’s favoured 4-3-3 formation, that doesn’t leave much room for the other four with one main striker and two wingers.
Paul McMullan is a stick-on for the right flank, though the left is up for grabs.
Luke McCowan has been in good form this term while Paul McGowan played that role well last season.
Mullen remains out for a couple of months but he has been utilised in that left wing role previously while Jakubiak’s pace and dribbling could be handy there.
Getting him fit, however, has been a testing task so far in his Dens career.
Two up top
The simplest method is to use two of the five at the same time. However, that obviously means changing the preferred system.
McPake, though, has gone to 4-4-2 during games, sending on Sheridan to partner Cummings with Dundee chasing a goal.
That could also see two of the best finishers in the league partnered in a Dundee team with Cummings and Griffiths. Or a targetman/finisher combo if Sheridan starts.
What that does do, however, is leave more pressure on the midfield and defence.
Charlie Adam’s recent injury could make that a more realistic option.
Missing their influential leader in the middle of the park is a blow but it also makes a four-man midfield a possibility.
The Dark Blues will miss Adam’s deadly deliveries from almost anywhere on the pitch but can select a more mobile player in the middle of the park.
A minor tweak from the usual set-up, Dundee used 4-2-3-1 at times last season.
Mullen would often drop further back with Cummings leading the line.
The question is whether Griffiths or Cummings would be happy sitting deeper and doing more running. Until Mullen is back, it’s probably an unlikely way to get more than one of the five strikers in the team.
It is an attacking set-up, too – with the frontline options McPake has at his disposal, Dundee will be a real offensive threat.
Whichever way he chooses, there’s likely to goals flying in at Dens Park this term.