New League Cup format ‘should allow for more substitutes’

Paul Hartley believes more substitutes should be allowed to get players fit for the new season. Picture: John Devlin

Paul Hartley believes more substitutes should be allowed to get players fit for the new season. Picture: John Devlin

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Dundee boss Paul Hartley has called for more substitutes to be available in the early stages of the Betfred Cup.

The newly-formatted competition with clubs split into seeded five-team sections and penalty shoot-outs following drawn matches is up and running but still with only 14 players allowed during any game.

Hartley, whose side lost to East Fife on penalties last week after a 1-1 draw and host Dumbarton on Saturday before travelling to Peterhead on Tuesday, is a fan of the tournament but would like the opportunity to utilise his whole squad.

“I think this competition is good but it still doesn’t give you game time with the majority of the squad,” he said.

“We are only allowed three substitutes. I would like to see more players used, five or six instead of three substitutes we are allowed, especially in the section. After that then I think it is fine.

“But we need more subs because players need to play.

“They are still finding their feet, they are not 100 per cent sharp and we can’t play everybody.

“We want to pick the strongest team, we are not taking this cup lightly but I have got to look at the players also in terms of getting plenty of game time and lots of minutes.

“We are early into the season, if you look at previous seasons you would still be two and half, three weeks away from your first league game and you would still be playing friendlies.

“It is a balancing act.

“The boys that maybe didn’t start last week will start this week and look at the game for Tuesday, keep training hard and try to keep everybody involved as much as we can.”

Striker Greg Stewart will return from a hip injury while keeper Scott Bain is back in the squad after missing last week with a knock.

Midfielder Paul McGowan will see a specialist about his shoulder injury and if given the all clear will be available for Tuesday night.

Nicky Low has recovered from his ankle complaint and will play in a bounce game on Saturday while Kosta Gadzhalov (knock) and James McPake (knee) remain sidelined.

Hartley refused to comment on Gary Harkins, who was not involved last week and who will be allowed to leave the club.

The Dens Park boss, who is looking for a centre half as a priority, said: “It will be a tough game, it is the first home game of the season and we want to do well, want to try to get the points.

“These games are never easy but we have another week under our belt and hopefully we put in a good performance tomorrow.”

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