Concentration will be key as struggling Dundee head for a testing Betfred Cup second-round tie at high-flying Hibs today.
That’s according to defensive newboy Liam Fontaine as he aims to shore up the leaky Dark Blues backline when heading back to face his old side.
The 34-year-old enjoyed a successful three seasons at Easter Road where he lifted the 2016 Scottish Cup and then helped the Hibees win the Championship the following season.
He’s since had three years at Ross County, where he also won the second tier, before arriving at Dens Park earlier this month.
Fontaine comes into a Dundee side struggling to keep the goals out on the road, having conceded 15 in their last four away matches in all competitions.
“I think when you are conceding goals, people automatically points at defenders and goalkeepers all the time,” Fontaine said.
“But football is a team game. You have to defend as a team and make the opposition work hard for goals.
“Only the players can turn things around. The gaffer can do as much work as he wants on the training field but once you are out on the pitch, it is the 11 men and the ones who come off the bench who have to win games or stop goals going in.
“We have to keep each other in the zone. Concentration is massive in football at all levels but I think the lower you go the concentration drops off and that’s what we need to do – keep each other switched on and it has to last until the final whistle.”
He added: “I am just looking to come in and try to help improve the group in whatever way I can using my experience.
“We haven’t had the best start with regards to the league so it is about using today to show a bit of identity and build on that going forward.
“It is upbeat, here. Of course, it is. We know what we are capable of and it is just a case of producing that on a consistent basis.
“You can have amazing training weeks and everyone can be on it but it is just about transferring that onto a pitch in a competitive matchday. That is the challenge we face.”
Fontaine made his debut from the bench last weekend with Dundee already 2-0 down at Ayr United after conceding poor goals.
Fontaine reckons that might just spark a reaction among the squad this afternoon in Edinburgh.
He said: “I think what was said was completely fair and honest. That is the first thing you need to turn poor form, to look within.
“You need to look at yourself first and foremost and the whole point of being a team is that you will have players performing well and they need to drag up the ones that aren’t.”
The Dark Blues head into this contest as big underdogs, having won just two of their last seven games.
Their hosts, meanwhile, were minutes away from beating champions Celtic last weekend and have only lost two of their last 11 matches in all competitions.
Fontaine knows only too well what the cup competitions mean to the Easter Road club and expects all the pressure to be on the Hibees this afternoon.
“One hundred per cent. Hibs are a club that expects to be pushing towards or getting into cup finals,” he said.
“There is a high expectation at Hibs but at the same time it is a cup game and we need to back ourselves.
If we go there hoping to just give Hibs a game, that’s not good enough. We need to go there with the mindset that we can get into the quarter-final of a cup.
“When you go to places like Easter Road you have to match the energy, the running and the nasty side of the game, winning your battles.
“It is a cup game so anything can happen. Hibs are a good team and are obviously doing well in the Premiership.
“It is going to be a good challenge but I watched the game in the previous round and apart from probably six or seven minutes, I thought we were well in it.
“We showed quality with the goal we scored. But it is after scoring that you have to show the other side of the game where you have to settle down after getting back into the game at a place like Easter Road.
“You have to weather a storm because they are going to come at you as they have quality players.”
Having enjoyed such success at Easter Road, Fontaine was asked if he would celebrate scoring against the Hibees for Dundee this afternoon.
He replied: “You have to celebrate all goals, especially if you don’t score them often!
“I played at Hibs and I loved it there. It will always have a place close to my heart but when you cross the line, you are there to win a game and if you score, you celebrate as you are doing something positive for where you are now.”