Dundee coach Dave Mackay believes Dunfermline have been dealt a bad hand with the loss of three key players at the same time.
The Dark Blues face the Pars at Dens tomorrow and the opposition will be depleted due to the absence through injury of star striker Kevin Nisbet, while experienced midfielder Ryan Dow and key defender Lee Ashcroft are also expected to be sidelined.
Mackay believes being without Nisbet would be bad enough but when you factor in the other two then he thinks Dunfermline will be feeling that their luck is out.
The former Dundee, Livingston and St Johnstone centre-back said: “Losing Nisbet is a massive blow for them because he is one of the best players in the league.
“Lawrence Shankland has taken most of the headlines but, Nisbet’s goal scoring for a team that are sitting where they are, compared to Dundee United, has been exceptional.
“He has certainly played well against us this season and the last time at East End Park he tore us to shreds.
“I am sure our defenders will be pretty pleased he is missing this game.
“He is a massive loss for them but they will also be without Ryan Dow and Lee Ashcroft so that’s tough for them to have three big players out at the same time.”
In contrast, Dundee are looking in pretty good shape as they carry the momentum of a six-match unbeaten run and five clean sheets into the Championship clash.
Mackay added: “We are starting to hit the form we thought we were capable of.
“We had been inconsistent for the vast majority of the season or before January at least.
“We would win two or three games and then would have a poor run of form.
“Now we are starting to hit that run of form coming up to the play-offs.
“First and foremost, though, we have to make sure we are in them.
“Ideally, you want to hit them with a bit of form and a bit of momentum behind you.”
Mackay admits a big reason for the upturn in results has been the January arrival of Christophe Berra from Hearts.
However, he argued that it is not just down to one player.
He said: “Christophe’s arrival has coincided with the good run of form and clean sheets.
“Having him at the club with his experience has been massive for us.
“You don’t play at the level he has played at during his career without being a top player.
“He might not be as quick as he once was but you never lose the game intelligence and organisational skills he’s got.
“Again, though, I would say that it’s not just all down to him and he would be the first to say that.
“For example, Jordon Forster has been exceptional and Josh Meekings has come back in as well. The three of them have been great together.
“I would also mention Conor Hazard behind them in goal because, even though he has not had much to do, he has looked very comfortable.
“It is a joint effort.”