Forget Cristiano Ronaldo.
The only returning prodigal son who mattered in Dundee was Leigh Griffiths.
As the Portuguese icon notched a brace for Manchester United on Saturday, ‘Sparky’ could not quite ignite the Dees’ display to the same extent as they drew 0-0 with Livingston.
Nevertheless, his maiden appearance since arriving on loan from Celtic gave plenty of cause for optimism once the mercurial marksman is up to speed.
And Courier Sport was on-hand to cast an eye over Griffiths’ second bow.
The centre of attention
Even before a ball was kicked, there was only one show in town.
Regular refrains of ‘Super Leigh Griffiths’ echoed around Dens Park following the news that the fans’ favourite would be making his first start in Dark Blue since January 22, 2011.
He was the last player off the pitch after the warm-up, flashing a smile as he was afforded a raucous reception from the Main Stand.
Griffiths stated last week that he wanted to feel ‘loved’ once more.
As if there was every any doubt, the welcome illustrated that Griffiths will be afforded the support and adulation to thrive at Dundee. The rest is up to him.
A constant threat
Griffiths was a little rusty. Of course he was. He had not started a competitive game of football in five months.
That was underlined by a pass accuracy of 61.1 per cent, the third lowest in the Dundee side behind Jordan Marshall and Lee Ashcroft.
One must take into account the amount of high-risk, low percentage passes a player such as Griffiths attempts when looking at that number. However, there were undoubtedly a few more wayward touches, misplaced lay-offs and sclaffed shots.
All of which makes it all the more remarkable — and laudable — that Griffiths was such a threat throughout.
He consistently showed for possession, drifted into pockets of space and sought to drive forward and unleash a dig.
Griffiths produced six shots and created three chances against Livi, the most of any player on the pitch by a distance. Only Luke McCowan — with two shots and three chances created — even came close.
Only a wonderful save by Max Stryjek denied him in the second period, with the Livi keeper blocking a dinked effort before scrambling back to his line to scoop the trundling ball to safety.
If Saturday was Griffiths finding his feet, then the Dee faithful have ample cause to be excited by what is to come.
Sometimes the most simple landmarks are the most noteworthy.
Saturday’s stalemate marked the first time Griffiths has completed an entire senior match since March 7, 2020.
On that occasion, he notched a hat-trick for Celtic in a 5-0 demolition of St Mirren.
So, there was inherent risk in boss James McPake keeping him on the pitch for the full 90 minutes; a necessary gamble as he attempts to get Griffiths fully fit and razor sharp.
He may not have found the net, but completing the match unscathed bodes well for the upcoming Dundee derby, Premier Sports Cup quarter-final against St Johnstone and visit of Rangers.
Griffiths and Cummings
With a decent array of attacking options now at his disposal, McPake’s selection in the final third is destined to be a weekly source of intrigue.
Griffiths; Jason Cummings; Alex Jakubiak; Cillian Sheridan; when fit again, Danny Mullen — they all have goals in their boots.
However, the two most prolific, clinical front-men in the pack are Cummings and Griffiths, and it will be fascinating to see whether the maverick duo can play in the same team.
Cummings, with five goals from nine outings this term, had to be content with a place on the bench but entered the fray after 65 minutes, affording a supporters a glimpse as to how he could dovetail with the Scotland international.
Cummings immediately took up the centre-forward role, while Griffiths drifted towards the right flank and got some joy cutting inside and seeking to cause havoc with his educated left foot.
He almost claimed an assist from that position when a super clipped cross was met by Luke McCowan, only for the ball to nestle in the arms of Stryjek.
While no-one would suggest Griffiths does his best work on the flank, it did illustrate that he is much more than just a poacher.