Dundee boss James McPake has warned his players not to expect Queen of the South to take their foot off the gas for the Championship’s final game.
The Doonhamers are safe from relegation but also can’t reach the play-off places while the Dark Blues need three points to pip Raith Rovers to second place.
To achieve that, a victory for champions Hearts is required at Stark’s Park – a scoreline the Dundee coaching staff will be keeping a keen eye on says McPake.
“If we don’t get the three points at Palmerston, it won’t matter what happens at Stark’s Park,” he said.
“But we will know what is happening there.
“And people will see that – if Raith Rovers are battering Hearts then my three subs will be made in preparation for the play-off quarter-final.
“It’s important we protect our players for those games if we can.
“If it is going the other way then it’ll be three very attacking subs to try and get all three points.
“It’s important we know what is going on elsewhere but it is all irrelevant if we don’t win the game.”
‘Queens will want to go out on a high’
And that’s where McPake wants his player’s focus to be – earning a crucial three points that could help them in their promotion ambitions.
Second place is awarded a place in the play-off semi-final while third and fourth battle it out in the quarter-final.
The Dark Blues are keen to give themselves an easier ride through the play-offs but that’ll only happen by winning in Dumfries on Friday.
It will also be an emotional one for the Doonhamers on Friday night as club legend Stephen Dobbie plays his last game for the club.
And McPake expects a tough evening in store.
He said: “Queens will have professional pride to play for and they won’t want to go into the summer on the back of a poor last game.
“Their manager will have them up for the game. Since we went there on Boxing Day and won convincingly Queens have been really good.
“They’ve been on a really decent run and we were disappointing against them at Dens not long ago.
“We want to put that right, of course, as well as getting the three points that will give us the chance of getting second.”
He added: “I’ve played in games on the last day where we’ve been battered but also in others where we’ve played brilliantly.
“Sometimes teams with nothing to play for play with a bit of freedom and knock the ball about. You know the opposition is coming desperate for the win as well.
“They’ll be looking to win as much as we are because they’ll want to finish the season on a high. They won’t be happy with the game the last time we were there either.
“Queens have good players who have played at a decent level who will want to go out and put a show on as well.”
Raith v Hearts
McPake is also hoping the same goes for champions Hearts in their final match of the campaign at Stark’s Park.
The Jambos take on second-place Raith live on BBC Scotland on Friday night having lifted the Championship trophy last weekend.
McPake added: “Hearts have won the league because they’ve been the best team, credit to them.
“Raith are second now because they’ve been the next best so far.
“It is a TV game and Hearts players will want to finish their season on a high as well.
“They’ll be desperate to win and put a show on for the TV.”
The Dark Blues head to Dumfries with no new injury worries.
Central defender Liam Fontaine limped off against Raith last weekend but is expected to be available.
The same goes for winger Declan McDaid after he missed the 2-1 victory with a slight hamstring problem.
Jordan Marshall, meanwhile, is continuing his recovery from the hamstring injury he got at Dunfermline.
On his squad, McPake said: “We are really good. We’ve almost got a full squad, missing Fin Robertson, Jack Hamilton and Josh Mulligan.
“Jordan Marshall has been doing a bit this week but it’s risk-reward with him.”