Dundee will have to be wary of speedy counter-attacks when taking on Queen of the South, says boss James McPake.
The Dark Blues are set to play their first fixture since the January 30 defeat at Raith Rovers after a string of call-offs due to bad weather.
Facing them at Dens Park are in-form Queen of the South, fresh from a 1-0 win at Inverness and boasting a recent record of just one defeat in eight matches.
Having played three matches more than their hosts, a victory for the Doonhamers would see them leapfrog Dundee into the play-off spots.
That’s after a remarkable upturn in form following the previous meeting of the sides, which ended in a comfortable 3-1 win for McPake’s men.
The Dens boss said: “Queens are in completely different form since we played them on Boxing Day.
“We’ve had only one loss in nine, they’ve had one loss in eight and I’ve been impressed with the way they’ve turned it around.
“I was impressed with them as well last Friday night and Wednesday against Hearts and Inverness.
“It was a really good result on Wednesday and a deserved one, if I’m honest.
“The stats maybe don’t say that but the way they defended it was deserved and their gameplan worked and they scored a very good goal.
“They are causing teams problems and are a dangerous opponent at the moment.
“They were unlucky not to win against Hearts last week so we are under no illusions it’ll be a tough game.”
A large part of Queens’ improvement has been in defence, but Allan Johnston has also combined that with real pace in attack.
Their winner in the Highlands on Wednesday saw Nortey Nortei race clear of the defence, while on-loan Middlesbrough winger Isaiah Jones has made a real impact since arriving in January.
“Allan Johnston has recruited well and they’ve brought real pace in – their goal at Inverness came from that, they nick the ball and hit on the counter. That’s been bringing them success,” added McPake.
“They’ll come and sit in, try to frustrate us and they are a real threat on the counter. That is something we are aware of – if we aren’t they’ll do to us what they have done to others recently.”
McPake has no new injury worries ahead of Saturday’s clash, with only long-term absentees Jordan McGhee, Alex Jakubiak and Josh Mulligan expected to be unavailable.
‘Big ask’ for Queens
Meanwhile, Queens boss Johnston says “it’s a big ask” for his squad to recover fully in time for Dens after their trip to Inverness on Wednesday.
The Doonhamers are suffering from a real injury crisis, with the likes of top scorer Connor Shields and first-team regulars Joe McKee, Rhys McCabe, Dan Pybus and Aiden Fitzpatrick struggling.
Talisman Stephen Dobbie returned from a lengthy absence in midweek after on-loan Rangers striker Dapo Mebude went into self-isolation.
The Scotland youth striker, who broke coronavirus rules by attending a party in Glasgow, will also miss out at Dens.
Johnstone expects another difficult trip for his side but one they are relishing.
He told QOSTV: “It’s another hard game, especially with the recovery time and travelling (from Inverness).
“The Dumfries boys didn’t get back home till 1am (on Thursday morning) so it’s a big ask.
“We have to make sure everybody is fit because the squad is that tight at the moment that we need everybody.
“Every game is tough, it doesn’t matter who you are playing in this league. We focus on ourselves and I feel like we’re in really good form at the moment. We’ve had a really good record recently.”