Another D-Day: Dundee continue SPL survival fight

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DUNDEE host Aberdeen today knowing only a win will keep their remarkable late surge for SPL survival alive. With 11th-placed St Mirren losing 3-0 to Hearts at Tynecastle yesterday, John Brown’s men are still eight points adrift at the foot of the table with nine points left to play for including today’s match.

St Mirren only need a point from their remaining two games to all but secure safety, thanks to their vastly superior goal difference, but Brown wants his side to relax as they attempt to continue their recent run of fine form which has seen them beat Hearts, St Mirren and Kilmarnock.

Brown said: “I’ve just told them to carry on playing with a smile on their faces. That’s what they’ve been doing and that’s what I want them to carry on doing. I’ve put no pressure on them since I came in and that has helped. They’re enjoying their football just now which always helps.

“This is another big game for us and if we can play the way we have been we’ll give ourselves every chance.”

Brown has also urged the home fans to act as their extra man as they prepare to welcome Derek McInnes’ men to Tayside. He said: “They’ve been brilliant since I took over. I think they appreciate how hard the boys have been working. It’s always great when they run out and get that kind of backing from the supporters. It really does help and if we can give them something extra to shout about then so much the better.”

Midfielder Gary Harkins has recovered from a rib injury which forced him to miss last weekend’s win over Hearts but long-term absentees Stephen O’Donnell (knee) and Jamie McCluskey (Achilles) are still both ruled out.

Aberdeen manager McInnes has begun attempts to strengthen his squad for next season by inviting Republic of Ireland under-21 cap Rhys Murphy to train with the club. The Dons say the forward will spend a couple of days with the club and is “just one of a number of players the manager will assess in the weeks before the season comes to a close”. Murphy began his career with Arsenal but did not make the breakthrough, although he gained first-team experience on loan with Preston and Brentford. The 22-year-old represented his native England at several age levels before switching allegiance to the Republic of Ireland and has spent this season playing for Telstar in the Dutch second tier.

Despite the trial move, assistant manager Tony Docherty has told all the current Aberdeen players they still have the chance to ensure they remain at Pittodrie next season.

McInnes and Docherty take charge of their third game today and are looking to build on two clean sheets. Docherty told RedTV: “Of course, we have identified players. Recruitment is important for the club so we wouldn’t be doing our job if we’ve not done that. But recruitment starts from within, so the players that are here at the moment we’re getting to see them on a daily basis which is great, and watch this space.”

Docherty also gave further encouragement to the young players at Pittodrie after 17-year-old midfielder Craig Storie made his debut in last weekend’s 1-0 victory over Kilmarnock.

Docherty added: “The under-20s have just cemented second place in the league, and every game we’ve been at we come away feeling enthused and excited by these young players in terms of the future for Aberdeen.”