Paul Hartley hoping Dundee can build on new solidity

Paul Hartley:  Progress. Picture: SNS

Paul Hartley: Progress. Picture: SNS

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Dundee manager Paul Hartley believes a new settled defence could help his draw specialists move up the league.

Dundee have drawn half of their 16 Ladbrokes Premiership games, including their last four which have all ended 1-1.

But away points against Hearts and St Johnstone have been welcome and the central defensive partnership of James McPake and Julen Etxabeguren has impressed.

Hartley, whose team host Aberdeen tomorrow, said: “We have had two tough away fixtures which we have coped very well with against two teams who are going well. We have shown we are tough to beat and on our day we are as good as anyone.

“If we can be a wee bit tighter at the back and see games out then that would help us, but we are not far away.

“We have had four defeats from 16, which I think is good by anyone’s standards. If we can turn those draws into results then we will be further up the table but I am happy with the progress the team is making.

“We have not had a settled back four but over the last two games we have been solid.”

Midfielder Kevin Thomson looks set to miss the fixture against the Dons.

“I think Saturday might be too soon for him having picked up a knock last week,” Hartley said.

Aberdeen captain Ryan Jack, meanwhile, is in line to return for Derek McInnes’ side at the weekend.

Jack has missed the last two games with an ankle injury but returned to full training 48 hours before the encounter at Dens Park.

Aberdeen boss McInnes said: “He has come through training and as long as there’s no reaction, he will travel with the squad.”

McInnes is looking for his team to build on their recent recovery in form, which has seen them beat Dundee United and Ross County in consecutive home games.

“Not so long ago a win seemed the hardest thing to do but the last two home performances have been strong enough to win the game,” he said. “We weren’t anywhere near our best at Hamilton but we managed to pick up a point.

“What we are looking for, especially on the road, is to be convincing in our work and be difficult to play against but we certainly want to build on the three points from last week.”

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