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Dundee star Danny Mullen reckons Hearts’ Championship favourites tag means nothing

Danny Mullen knows favourites do not always win.

Danny Mullen has been an underdog title winner before.

That’s how the Dundee star knows Hearts’ Championship favourites tag is no guarantee of glory.

Mullen got his hands on the second tier trophy in 2018 as part of the St Mirren side that left Dundee United for dead.

The much-fancied Tangerines ended up finishing third before being dumped out of the promotion play-offs by Livingston.

So when Mullen ponders Dundee’s clash with title favourites Hearts tonight – and the size of the task to come over the 27-game campaign – he not at all overawed.

“I won the Championship with St Mirren in 2018,” said the Dee striker.

“I started the season with Livingston then Jack Ross signed me in the January.

“Dundee United were in the league that season and they were the biggest club, but they only finished third.

“We won the league and Livingston went up through the play-offs.

“So that just shows you what can happen – in sport you get a lot of favourites who don’t win.

“So you have to believe in yourself and back yourself to win.

“You need to get off to a good start and build momentum, especially this year when it’s a shorter season.

“If you can do that, build it up from the start of the season, then you give yourself a good chance.

“You need loads of things to go right when you win a title and we believe we’ve got enough in this dressing-room to get the job done.”

Tonight’s televised meeting at Tynecastle pits the bookies’ favourites for the title against second favourites.

However, with Hearts odds-on to finish first and Dundee priced around nine-to-one, the bookies don’t expect a close title race.

That’s something Mullen hopes can work in the Dark Blues’ favour.

He said: “All the focus is on Hearts but they struggled last season and need to turn that around.

“We are not focusing on what everyone is saying, we are just looking at ourselves.

“It’s a great game to start the season with, it’s going to be a test but these are the games you want to be involved in.

“We think that our squad is strong enough to do really well this season, there is quality and experience in all departments.

Dundee players celebrate Danny Mullen’s goal against Brora.

“It will be unusual going to Tynecastle with no fans there and I don’t really know whether that will work for Hearts or against them.

“You can see it for and against because they get good backing there – but they are a hard crowd to please.

“So we will just see how it goes.”

It’s likely Mullen will face off directly against a former teammate – and good friend – in Hearts defender Craig Halkett tonight.

However, Mullen insists the pair’s regular chats have steered clear of the match.

“We played together at Livingston and he’s one of my best mates,” said Mullen.

“He’s done really well since going there and he’s scored a few goals for them too.

“We will still speak this week as normal, but we won’t be telling each other anything about the game.

“Hopefully come the end of Friday night I’ve put one over him.”

After setting up Dundee’s opener for Graham Dorrans against Brora Rangers last weekend, Mullen notched a debut goal himself.

Having waited eight months to taste competitive action since his last game, simply being on the pitch was something he relished.

The 25-year-old managed an hour on the park in his first appearance since recovering from injury.

But he believes he can rack up plenty more appearances and plenty more goals this season thanks to the wealth of creative talent in the Dens Park dressing room.

“Part of the reason I came was the quality of the squad and you can see just training with the likes of Charlie Adam and Graham Dorrans every day the ability they’ve got,” he said.

“We will create chances and I believe I can go on to score so many goals this season.

“It will be a case of getting used to the way they play, knowing what balls they’re going to play and getting in positions to make the most of them.

“It has been a long wait for the league to start but it’s here now, we have a big one to kick off with and everyone is looking forward to it.

“There has been a bit of normality over the last month or so, being back to training and getting playing games again.

“It has been good to get a game last weekend to get us off and running so hopefully we are able to build on it now.”

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