Paul McGowan has been a virtual ever-present for Dundee this season.
However, his boss Paul Hartley has revealed that when he could have taken a well-earned rest because of suspension recently, the midfielder approached him asking to play for the club’s Under-20s.
After being granted permission to do so, McGowan turned out in the “Wee derby” against Dundee United at Links Park on December 16.
A week later, he was instrumental in helping the Dark Blues secure an incredible victory against Hearts on Friday night as Dundee stormed back from 2-0 down to win 3-2 with the 29-year-old netting his side’s second.
And Hartley admits, McGowan is a joy to work with.
Hartley said: “Gowser was the wee spark for us the other night and you know what you are getting from him.
“I think he has matured but he has never given me an ounce of bother.
“Working with him every day on the training pitch he gives you everything.
“He even played for the Under-20s the other week.
“He has played every game for us so far this season but he was suspended and wanted to play.
“That says it all about Gowser.”
Hartley admitted he was far from pleased with the start his side made against Hearts.
However, he paid tribute to his players’ fighting spirit as they notched up what he considers one of the finest wins of his time at Dens.
The manager said: “It wasn’t a great start against Hearts so it is something we need to look at.
“We need to start games better. First-half Hearts were excellent but we were way off it.
“But we altered it a bit, changed the shape and the personnel.
“At half-time we told them it wasn’t good enough but they knew they hadn’t performed well.
“We were still in the game at 1-0 because they could have had more if it hadn’t been for some excellent saves from Scott Bain.
“They showed great spirit though to turn it around. I think it is probably one of my best victories as a manager here.
“Coming back from 2-0 against a good team, one of the top three in the league was excellent.
“It was really good fighting spirit.”
Dundee will be looking to make it two wins on the spin when they travel to face Partick at Firhill tomorrow night.
The last time the sides met in October was one to forget for the Dark Blues as they slumped to a 2-0 defeat at Dens, a result that left them three points adrift at the bottom of the Premiership table.
That match proved to be a watershed moment with Hartley deciding to alter his formation and tactics with Dundee now up to seventh with 19 points to their name.
Hartley added: “Six or seven weeks ago we were sitting on just six points at the bottom.
“After the last Partick game we were looking for answers.
“It was a real low point for us but then we changed the shape of the team and how we play.
“We told them, this is how we play until the end of the season.
“It has been a good response since that game for us. They have bought in to what we are trying to do.
“That’s been the pleasing thing.”
Hartley, however, will certainly not be taking anything for granted against a Thistle side he rates highly.
He said: “They are a good team.
“I think it was their first win in eight against Ross County at the weekend.
“But I watched them at Celtic in midweek and they have some good players.
“They play a good brand of football.
“They have always been good games between us and we have actually done OK at Firhill.
“But I think they are an excellent team.”
Dundee will be without the injured Nicky Low and Yordi Teijsse.