Dundee boss James McPake expects to see young loanee Sean Mackie go from strength to strength as the Dark Blues chase down second spot in the second half of the season.
Mackie signed up at Dens Park on a season-long deal from parent club Hibs with the aim of earning first-team experience.
So far, the 21-year-old has played 13 times this campaign, scoring in a 3-0 win at Alloa Athletic back in October.
Dens Park gaffer James admits Mackie, who has played at both left-back and left midfield, has been inconsistent at times in his early days with the club.
However, he’s working hard to bring out the talent he knows is there to help Dundee in their race for promotion before sending the Scotland U/21 cap back to Easter Road in the summer.
James said: “We’ve been delighted with him with his attitude and willingness to come to a different club and perform.
“He’s trying to get to a level where he is in the Hibs team week in, week out.
“His attitude and desire to work could be seen in the last derby but we’ve seen that from day one.
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“He’s a young kid and will be inconsistent at times but recently he’s been really good, he was excellent in the win at Partick.
“He gives balance to the side and he’s a good player.
“We need that out of him every week and I think we are starting to get that.
“When he gets a run of games and starts believing in himself he’s got the chance to be a really good player.”
Hibs paid around £25,000 for Mackie when he was 17 and have high hopes for the former Raith Rovers man.
Previous loan deals have included Berwick Rangers and Edinburgh City in League Two and he has played 16 times for the Easter Road first team.
Under Paul Heckingbottom, Mackie featured 10 times in the Premiership last season and twice this campaign, though he was sent off in a 6-1 defeat at Ibrox.
And the Hibees believe Mackie’s move to Dens Park is the perfect place for him to pick up some much-needed experience before heading back and, hopefully, pushing for a first-team spot.
Matches like December’s derby at Tannadice, where Mackie put in arguably his best appearance for the Dark Blues, are exactly the sort of pressure matches the Easter Road side want to see him tested in.
“We’ve spoken to Hibs and they are happy he is getting games, decent ones,” added James.
“From their point of view, he is getting games in an environment where it’s similar to Hibs.
“There are two teams in the one city, big rivalry, playing in derbies live on TV and they need their players to face those things to play for them.
“Both clubs are happy and Sean will be here until the end of the season.”
Though, they had a break this weekend after the home match with Ayr was called off due to a waterlogged pitch, the Dens boss is keen to see his side bounce back from the disappointing defeat to Inverness 10 days ago in what is an important part of the season, starting this coming weekend at home to Motherwell in the Scottish Cup.
He added: “We’ve a big cup game coming this weekend and it is a big period in the season.
“We know where we want to be in the league, we want to be higher than where we are and we are disappointed in our consistency.
“We can’t really put a run together, the four games before the Inverness match isn’t really a run for me.
“We need to be better all around the pitch than in the Inverness one.”