Dundee boss James McPake says the performance of his backline last time out against Partick will have “spurred” Cammy Kerr and Jordan McGhee to get back to fitness as soon as possible.
Kerr and McGhee went under the knife to fix knee and wrist injuries respectively before the Dark Blues faced the Jags almost a fortnight ago.
Despite not having the key defensive duo to call on for the clash with Ian McCall’s men, Dundee enjoyed one of their most commanding victories of the season.
With a race against time to be fit for Saturday’s trip to Queen of the South, James says the pair will be doing all they can to ensure their absence is as short as possible.
He said: “I think the Partick performance has spurred them on a little to get back.
“They’ll be thinking they have to get back and be fit.
“They are looking really good, too.
“The good thing about it is they haven’t missed enough for it to really affect them.
“Both players are naturally fit and strong but I think it helps beef up the squad and keeps the competition healthy.
“It was a risk (to have the surgeries before the Partick game) but we had to lose them at some point in the season.
“You try to minimise that as much as possible and knowing we had a free weekend this was the time to do it.
“Even if Partick had came and won the game here I still would have backed the decision.
“Both have been training with the physio at the start of the week and then training yesterday.
“We’ll assess them both tomorrow.
“They are within the time frame of what we expected and that’s why we did the surgeries when we did.
“We are looking forward to getting them back in the squad.”
The break, meanwhile, also came at a good time for wideman Declan McDaid as he was able to tidy up a niggle while Andrew Nelson has continued his return after surgery.
It also gave midfielder Jamie Ness a chance to get closer to fitness, though he is still unlikely to be available this weekend.
With Nelson back and Kane Hemmings firing in the goals, boss James is happy to stick with just the two recognised frontmen for the rest of the campaign.
Free agents can still be signed outside the transfer window but the Dens gaffer says that’s unlikely at this time of year.
He added: “We are pretty settled now.
“If something pops up, it pops up. We are building towards next season already as well.
“As long as the strikers stay fit.
“There are always ‘what-ifs’ but we have Andrew Nelson back and Paul McGowan can play up there when he needs to.
“Strength-wise I do think we are better now than we were going into the Partick game as a squad. We worked hard in the window, we did try to get another striker but that’s finished now, it’s the middle of February and everything is now focused on results.”
Following the departure of then-top-scorer Danny Johnson, there were worries the Dark Blues would be short-handed at the top end of the pitch.
Hemmings, though, had other ideas as he quickly asserted himself at the top of the club’s scoring charts with three goals in his last two games.
“Kane has been good all season,” added James.
“He took a while to get going with goals but his all-round play is better now.
“You create chances, he’ll get you goals – maybe now we’re starting to create chances for him and long may that continue.”