Dundee goalkeeper Jack Hamilton will be back between the posts for the clash with Queen of the South at Dens.
That was the welcome news announced by manager James McPake as he prepared his team to host the Doonhamers in the Championship tomorrow.
That means emergency loan man Conor Hazard, who played five matches as cover for Hamilton, has returned to parent club Celtic with immediate effect.
Hamilton (25) took ill in the aftermath of the Dark Blues’ home loss to Partick Thistle on October 19.
He was taken to hospital for keyhole surgery to remove his appendix and was replaced by Hazard for the matches against Ayr United, Alloa, Morton, Dundee United and Inverness Caley Thistle while he recovered at home.
McPake has been keen to ease Hamilton back and now, after playing a chunk of a bounce game against Brechin, feels he is ready to face Queens.
The Dens boss said: “Jack’s back – fit and raring to go.
“He played in a closed-doors game against Brechin and got 60 minutes.
“He has missed something like five weeks but now he is back and is looking sharp.
“Jack is on schedule and without any complications.
“There could have been an issue with him diving about but we saw very early on that that wasn’t going to be the case.
“We just progressed and now he is fine.”
McPake expressed his gratitude to both Hazard and the Hoops for helping them out of something of a crisis.
“Conor has now gone back to Celtic,” he confirmed.
“I thought he was great for us but the rules are the rules and he goes back.
“We have to thank Celtic on how swiftly they allowed us to get him in.
“It was also a good move for Conor as it allowed him to play in some big games so all in all it has worked out well for everybody.”
While Hamilton’s return is a positive, Dundee will definitely be without Andrew Nelson (bruised foot) and probably be without Jordan Marshall (hamstring) for the Queens match.
McPake is glad to be back at Dens after a fruitless journey up to Inverness last Saturday, when he felt his players didn’t do enough to trouble the Highlanders.
He said: “I am glad to be back here but we need to get back on track.
“We need to create chances, score goals and not to be so easy to play against because that is what we have worked on all week.
“How to hurt other teams has been a big part of our training and it has been productive.
“To simplify it, at Inverness we didn’t trouble their goalkeeper enough.
“I think their back four and goalie had an easy afternoon.
“I am not talking about individuals – I am talking about us as a team. “We didn’t hurt them or cause them enough problems.”
Nelson’s absence will limit his options but McPake was asked if he would consider changing things up front in light of what he said about the 1-0 loss to ICT.
He replied: “As a team, I think we need to improve.
“I will use the Alloa game as an example.
“Everybody says Jack saved us the game but he didn’t really because it was Declan McDaid. After after the penalty save he went on a 60-yard run to stop the boy at the back post.
“For me, that is about doing your job as a team.
“We didn’t get the ball into the front areas and creative players quick enough.
“Kano (Kane Hemmings) and Danny (Johnson) had chances but we didn’t make them (ICT) work enough.
“We had loads of the ball but we were a bit flat and we need to get the likes of Graham Dorrans and Paul McGowan on the ball in areas where they can hurt teams.”
McPake is keen for his players to race out of the blocks against the Doonhamers, adding: “That is important at every home game because we need to excite the fans.
“We need them behind us because when they are they are massive for the team – they drive us on.
“We have to put on a performance that makes them proud to come and they say, regardless of the result, that: ‘This is my team.’
“We want to be doing the right things, creating chances and troubling the opposition goalkeeper.
“We will do that on Saturday.”
McPake is wary of a Queen of the South side that suffered a shock William Hill Scottish Cup defeat to Queen’s Park last weekend.
He added: “I expect a reaction from them.
“They also come off a disappointing result and will be looking to bounce back.
“They will be up here looking to cause an upset and to prove a point.”