Dundee’s recent trips to Palmerston haven’t been too successful but the Dark Blues of 2020 have their sights set on changing that this time around.
The Dens men have managed just the one victory in their last nine trips to Queen of the South – a 2-1 win on their way to the Championship title in 2014 thanks to a Ryan Conroy penalty – stretching back over the last decade.
However, even from the last meeting in September, there could be considerable changes to the way James McPake sets his side out as he plots a way to double that win rate.
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The clash on a Friday night on TV saw Jordan McGhee net his first goal for the Dark Blues with a fine header after Queens striker Jack Hamilton had beaten his namesake in the Dundee goal early on.
That was a disappointing night for the Dens gaffer as his side struggled to find their feet in the Championship.
And he’ll be hoping this version of the Dark Blues can show there’s been some good work done in the time since.
After another poor spell at the start of the year, Dundee have put together two positive displays to earn a point at Morton (see video below) and win convincingly at home to Partick Thistle last time out.
Should boss James decide to stick with the same line-up and 3-5-2 formation, there will only be four names remaining on the team sheet from the autumn.
Of the team that saw off the Jags last time out, only Jordon Forster, Declan McDaid, Graham Dorrans and Kane Hemmings featured in the last trip down to Dumfries.
McGhee grabbed the goal that day but he and Cammy Kerr are both recovering from surgery and Saturday may come too soon for them.
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And with the three-man defence working so well with Christophe Berra added in against Thistle, the Dens gaffer might be tempted to stick rather than twist.
That’s likely to see Josh Meekings retain his place also with McDaid filling in at left wing-back and Christie Elliott on the right.
Of the midfield three, Dorrans is a stick-on to start, barring any injury problems, while Shaun Byrne has been impressing in training in recent weeks and showed up well against the Jags.
The big decision for James is who to put in the place of Ross Callachan.
The on-loan midfielder had injected dynamism to the middle of the park and was unlike anything else in the squad.
That could see Paul McGowan drop back to a deeper role after stepping in as a makeshift striker last week.
And Callachan’s energy could be replaced by fit-again Andrew Nelson after he returned from surgery to his hand for the closing stages last time out.
Another certainty, barring injury, is Kane Hemmings as he targets moving his goal tally into double figures for the season.
The Doonhamers will have a different look about them as well with three key players having left in the winter window.
On-loan goalie Robby McCrorie was recalled by Rangers to then send him out to Livingston and that saw the Lions send Ross Stewart Queens way.
New Video|Ross Stewart | Alloa | 25.01.20|
— Queen of the South (@OfficialQosFC) January 25, 2020
Centre-back Darren Brownlie made the switch to Partick while creator Faissal El Bakhtaoui headed off to Morocco.
Dundee’s recent record on astroturf makes pleasant reading.
They are unbeaten in the last five on the surface, winning three times – 3-0 at Alloa as well as 1-0 and 2-1 at Livingston last season.