Dundee’s first half of the season hasn’t been good.
Stepping up from the Championship, hopes were high momentum could carry the Dark Blues to a positive return to the top flight.
Despite some early promise with a couple of hard-fought draws, wins would not come and they’ve dried up again since a purple patch around November.
Quite clearly the Dens Park squad needs some reinforcement in January.
But where do they need to strengthen?
The first port of call has to be the backline.
In simple terms, Dundee have the worst defence in the league – 37 conceded in 20 games, not far off letting in two per game.
More often than not, surviving a relegation battle requires the ability to keep teams out when under pressure.
The good spell in the autumn months showed that with three clean sheets against St Mirren, Motherwell and St Johnstone bringing victories.
However, they also lost key man Lee Ashcroft to long-term injury in that time, leaving a big hole to fill.
Even without his absence, that would have been a position to improve upon anyway. Jordan McGhee’s injury showed how light the squad is for back-up options.
The same goes at full-back. Cammy Kerr has been in decent form of late but Jordan Marshall has struggled with fitness and form lately.
Having another option, particularly on the left, is an area to improve.
This area of the park has been where Dundee have been strongest during McPake’s tenure.
However, injuries again have laid bare the limits within the squad.
With Fin Robertson out on loan, there’s been no ready-made replacement for Shaun Byrne.
Though, those two could once more be fighting it out for a first-team berth by the time play restarts with Robertson’s Cove loan due to end and Byrne nearing a return to fitness.
Captain Charlie Adam is crucial to the team and his injury has been a problem with Byrne also out.
A glut of fixtures during December often saw the same names starting game after game. Extra options are needed to freshen things up in the second half of the campaign.
Another central midfielder would also free up Jordan McGhee at times to fill in further back when required.
Luke McCowan and Paul McMullan are the wide threats and both have been excellent at times this season, arguably the stand out performers of the season.
But another option there would be handy. Alex Jakubiak could provide that but his track record with injury means he’s not one you can rely on.
Another issue is Cillian Sheridan being out for the season and the lack of a physical striking option.
Danny Mullen is first choice with Dundee hoping Leigh Griffiths has lit a fire under himself with that goal at Pittodrie.
Jason Cummings, though, is expected to be moving on so a different attacking threat is needed.
Cummings is likely to head out while the likes of Christie Elliott and Corey Panter have had very little game time.
Panter is obviously on loan but that can be ended in a transfer window if the parties wish while Elliott may be looking for more playing time.
January isn’t the easiest window to bring in quality additions, just ask Jim McIntyre.
Thankfully for Dundee they aren’t in those kind of dire straits with a big chunk of the squad showing they can compete at this level.
They just need a little more help, new faces to freshen things up or new starters bringing up the overall quality of the team.
Whether there are three, four or five incoming, it certainly is a “vital” window for manager McPake and Dundee’s survival hopes.