Gavin Rae hands Dundee pre-match boost but Manuel Pascali aims to dent home hopes

DUNDEE were boosted last night ahead of their lunchtime Scottish Cup clash with Kilmarnock by the news that midfielder Gavin Rae has decided to stay with the club.

The 34-year-old has agreed to extend his contract and will be available to face Kilmarnock at Dens in front of the BBC cameras for the live televised match.

Rae rejoined Dundee in October after spells with Rangers and Cardiff and has been the catalyst behind their upturn in fortunes. Boss Barry Smith said: Gavin has extended his contract so we’re delighted.”

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Meanwhile, Manuel Pascali believes this month could make or break Kilmarnock’s season as they aim to impress on three fronts.

After today, they will clash with local rivals Ayr United in the semi-final of the League Cup at the end of January.

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Only goal difference keeps the Ayrshire club out of the top half of the SPL table and Pascali expects league games to be important over the coming weeks as they aim for a top-six spot.

However, the club’s captain insists all the focus for now will be on the action at Dens Park and ensuring they progress past Dundee.

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He said: “We want to do well because we know the importance of the cup.

“It’s a crucial month for us that could decide our future. We are ready to fight for this. This could be a seriously good season for us – but it could be a poor season as well. In my experience, the most important months are January and February. Our future could be decided this month.

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“We have some good games in the SPL and the semi-final but we will focus on this match and aim for a good run in this cup too. We hope it will be a fantastic season – that’s what we want for the club and the supporters.”

As far as Pascali is concerned, the clash with First Division side Dundee will be just as difficult as a meeting with SPL opposition. He added: “We are going to treat this game like an SPL match because we know they are a good side. Everybody knows that this game is not going to be easy. They are third in their league and they are going to be really up for this match. They are doing quite well in the First Division but we will go there with confidence after a good win against St Mirren on Monday.”

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However, Pascali admits the loss of former Hibs midfielder Dean Shiels this month would be a big blow for Kilmarnock. Shiels looks set to return to Doncaster Rovers when his loan spell ends on 16 January, with the npower Championship club looking unlikely to sanction an extension.

Pascali said: “I don’t know his situation. I spoke to him previously and he would like to stay here but he is not the owner of his future.

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“If we lose him, it will be a big blow. You can see what he is capable of doing for us. Fortunately we have him available for Saturday’s game so we are hoping for a good performance and then see what happens after that.”