Irvine hopes for chance to help Dundee bounce back

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OUT-OF-CONTRACT Dundee captain Gary Irvine hopes manager John Brown will offer him a new deal so he can lead the Dens Park side’s battle back to the top.

Dundee have been relegated from the SPL and rounded off their home fixtures with a 3-2 defeat to Kilmarnock on Saturday. But club captain Irvine believes the side are capable of escaping the Irn-Bru First Division at the first attempt and wants to stay on to help them do just that.

He said: “The manager is here for another two years now, so I imagine he will start talking to the boys who he has got in his plans over the next week or two. I love it here. That’s why I came back last year. I had interest from other places but the years I have had here have been brilliant.

“I had the administration year and then last year when the fans picked me as their player of the year.

“I have always felt welcome here and there is a real bond amongst the folk at the club. I grew up watching my uncle Brian play here and it’s a place that is close to me. I will be definitely hoping to speak to the gaffer about staying on. You look at the squad we have and if he can keep the majority of these players together then I’m sure we will have a great chance of bouncing straight back.”

Dundee fell behind against Kilmarnock after just four minutes when Rory McKenzie’s mazy dribble set him up to finish past Steven Simonsen.

But despite being relegated from the top flight last week after failing to beat Aberdeen at home, the home side showed bottle and fought back as Ryan Conroy tapped home from close range after 19 minutes.

However, their resistance was broken on 58 minutes with Chris Johnston’s strike from the edge of the box while Sammy Clingan made it three with a well-placed shot 17 minutes from time.

Mark Stewart gave the scoreline a more respectable look as he added a second for Dundee on 82 minutes but the demoted Dark Blues could not give their frustrated fans one last cheer.

Kilmarnock can still achieve their aim of finishing top of the bottom six and having 18-year-old winger Johnston in their ranks is certainly a bonus.

The winger was tremendous against Dundee and has now set his sights on pinching James Dayton’s slot on the left-hand side of the Rugby Park midfield for good. The Englishman is out of contract in the summer and has not played since breaking four ribs and puncturing a lung during a clash with Inverness in March.

Johnston, whose goal was his first for the club, said: “I’ve loved my first season in the first-team. The young boys have all been told that if they do well in the under-20s they will get their chance.

“I’ve got in so now I’m just hoping to keep doing well and push on for next season. It’s a bit frustrating that the season is coming to an end. I’d preferred to have had a few more games so I could keep showing the gaffer what I can do.”