‘We want people who are fully committed’ says James McPake as Kane Hemmings exits Dundee

Popular player departs after U-turn but manager plugs striker gap with Alex Jakubiak signing
Kane Hemmings had agreed to remain with Dundee for the forthcoming season but had a change of heart while on holiday. Picture: Ross Parker/SNSKane Hemmings had agreed to remain with Dundee for the forthcoming season but had a change of heart while on holiday. Picture: Ross Parker/SNS
Kane Hemmings had agreed to remain with Dundee for the forthcoming season but had a change of heart while on holiday. Picture: Ross Parker/SNS

Dundee confirmed Kane Hemmings had left the club yesterday before promptly announcing former Watford striker Alex Jakubiak’s arrival as a replacement.

Despite agreeing to remain with Dundee for the forthcoming season just over a fortnight ago after a consultation period when the club negotiated a 30 per cent pay cut with players, Hemmings had a change of heart while on holiday shortly afterwards.

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He originally resisted agreeing to the reduction before it was announced on 20 July that all the players at Dundee had now “taken the decision to help safeguard the future of the club”, with Hemmings among them.

The club praised the players “for their commitment in these difficult times”.

However, reports yesterday suggested Hemming had performed a U-turn amidst interest elsewhere. Dundee confirmed the striker had left the club “by mutual consent” in a three-paragraph statement later in the afternoon. The 29 year-old is expected to sign for a club in England today.

As recently as last week Dundee published the new squad numbers for the forthcoming 2020-21 season revealing Hemmings had opted to switch from the No 27 number he sported last term to 15, which he wore in his first spell at the club.

The loss of the popular striker was offset by the news that 23-year-old forward Jakubiak, who spent a few months on loan with St Mirren last season when he scored once in the Scottish Cup against Motherwell, had signed a two-year contract at Dens Park. He has been handed the No 7 shirt.

Manager James McPake made a pointed comment when welcoming Jakubiak to the club. Appearing to reference Hemmings’ sudden departure, he said it was important to stress everyone now at the club wanted to be there.

Dunfermline centre-half Lee Ashcroft signed last month with St Mirren striker Danny Mullen joining him last week. Jakubiak is the latest arrival at a time of flux for the club.

“Alex is one that excites us,” said McPake.

“He was identified very early on as one that we would like to bring to the club.” With Andrew Nelson and Kane Hemmings leaving it was important we strengthened but with our background work already done on Alex and Danny Mullen we had already identified those two and we are delighted to bring both to the club.

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“We are grateful to the staff and players who recently took part in the financial restructuring process as well as the outstanding effort from the fans.

“The most important thing above all else is we want people who are fully committed to the football club. I’m happy that the players and staff who are now at the club have shown that this is the case.”

Although he grew up in London, Jakubiak has a Scottish grandmother and represented Scotland twice at Under 19 level in 2014. He is also eligible for Poland.

As well as loan spells at St Mirren and Falkirk, where he scored seven times in 18 appearances in the Championship, he has most recently been on loan at Gillingham and Bristol Rovers among several other clubs.

His last game before lockdown was for St Mirren against Hearts, when the Paisley side earned what turned out to be a very significant 1-0 win. It meant Hearts were still bottom of the Premiership when the season was curtailed due to Covid-19 and they were subsequently relegated to the Championship.

Dundee’s league campaign kicks-off against the Tynecastle side on 17 October. Jakubiak’s arrival is a considerable boost to the Dens Park side following several departures, including club skipper Josh Meekings. However, Hemmings will be a hard player to replace.

The striker disproved the old adage about never going back by scoring ten goals in 27 appearances for Dundee last season. McPake described him as a better all-round player than when he played with Hemmings in the striker’s first spell at Dundee. Hemmings scored 25 times in 2015-16 while operating in tandem with Greg Stewart.

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