Dundee's Danny Mullen fires warning to benched big name rivals: "I believe I am the best striker at this club"
Danny Mullen has backed himself to fight off the challenge from Leigh Griffiths and Jason Cummings for a place in the Dundee side.
His confidence does not seem misplaced. James McPake has consistently shown willingness to place his faith in the 26-year-old striker.
At the end of last season, when it came to Dundee’s biggest games of the season in the two-legged Premiership play-off final v Kilmarnock, what did the manager do? He picked Mullen and kept Cummings on the bench in both games. The former Hibs striker even made a reference to having “splinters in ma a*se” in a film clip from the celebrations after Dundee’s 4-2 aggregate win which was released on social media afterwards.
Cummings had the same complaint on Saturday as Dundee swept past Motherwell in a win that was dedicated to club legend Doug Cowie, whose death aged 95 had been announced hours before kick-off.
Dundee stemmed a run of seven consecutive league defeats to Motherwell and Mullen was at the vanguard. He scored one and had another goal ruled out – wrongly it turned out - for off-side.
He was also handed the full 90 minutes as he continues his comeback from a broken ankle sustained in the opening league game against St Mirren. He has now scored in successive games while a pair of high-profile international forwards look on.
McPake seems unwilling to accommodate two out-and-out strikers in his starting XI after having his fingers burned in the 5-0 defeat to Ross County last month. Both Cummings and Griffiths started that game with Mullen brought on after 38 minutes.
Griffiths was handed the last 25 minutes on Saturday as a replacement for opening goalscorer Luke McCowan. Cummings, meanwhile, spent the whole game on the bench.
It seems likely they will have to contend with a place among the substitutes again on Wednesday when Dundee host St Johnstone with the aim of going above the visitors if they can secure another win.
As against Motherwell, Dundee are seeking to arrest an awful series of results: they have fallen to seven consecutive defeats to the Perth side. Fitness permitting, Mullen is bound to be central to McPake’s plans.
The striker is relishing such trust when the manager has other, perhaps more obvious alternatives. He rightly feels worth his place and regards himself as the best option.
“I’ve said that since the names came in, Griffiths and Cummings,” he said. “They are big names but it pushes me to get the best out of myself. It can only benefit the team in the long run.
“I believe in myself. I believe I am the best striker at the club — and they will believe the same (about themselves). It pushes me to be the best version of myself and thankfully I got the goal and the man of the match performance.
"He (McPake) started me in the first game of the season and has faith in me. I did well last season as well. It’s about paying back the faith the manager has shown in me.”
Dundee’s prospects seem suddenly brighter. They are the form team in the league behind Rangers and Celtic over the last six games – even including that shock reversal against Ross County.
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