Cammy Kerr admits new Dundee boss Neil McCann has restored confidence and self-belief in the squad with the help of an arm around the shoulder – or at times, the proverbial boot up the backside.
The Dark Blues will look to make it three wins out of three since the manager took over when they play Ross County at Dens this afternoon to further move clear of the danger zone.
Kerr hailed the impact McCann has made and the full-back admitted he hopes his interim appointment will ultimately become a permanent one.
The 21-year-old said: “The first few weeks have been great. I don’t know what the plans are.
“Hopefully things are heading in a positive direction, so we’ll just need to wait and see what happens.
“Since he came in, he’s restored the belief among the boys.
“It was tough because we’d been on a bad run. But he’s brought that togetherness.
“The boys are on-side with him and that’s a massive thing. He’s done that well.
“The confidence which had been lacking has been restored just through results.
“When you don’t get results it drains you mentally and physically. He’s just put that belief back in the boys.
“He’s grasped their characters quite quickly.
“He’s got to know how to deal with things, whether it’s an arm around the shoulder or a boot up the backside. That’s what he’s done best.
“The two wins have lifted the place. It was really important to get those two wins because we were on such a bad run before.”
This afternoon’s game will be McCann’s first in charge in the Dens dug-out.
The club are hoping for a big turn-out of fans for a match they are billing as the manager’s “homecoming” with McCann, of course, having two previous spells as a player for the Dark Blues.
His second stint was during the “Deefiant” season when he came out of retirement to help to the club in their hour of need, scoring a memorable goal against Raith – with a young Kerr watching on admiringly from the stand.
The defender said: “We’re expecting a big crowd.
“Obviously off the back of two wins hopefully the fans will come out in their numbers.
“It will be good for spurring the boys on as well.
“We had a spell at home earlier in the season when we were unbeaten but recently that has faded.
“We only have two home games left so obviously we want to get victories in both.
“We want to sign off on a good note with the supporters.
“I think recently until we got the last couple of results there’s maybe been a bit of tension.
“But it’s different now and we would love to repay the fans and go out and get a win for everyone.”
Kerr added: “I was sitting in the stand that day (when McCann scored) with the rest of the under-19 squad. It was just before I turned full-time.
“It was a special goal, a real great moment.
“It was probably one of the memories which stick out growing up around the club.
“It was definitely one of the highlights that day.”
Kerr missed McCann’s first game in charge at Motherwell through suspension but the manager showed the faith he has in the youngster by bringing him straight back in at Killie.
As a former winger, McCann has also been giving full-back Kerr plenty of tips about how to defend against wide players.
Kerr added: “After the boys won at Motherwell, I was wondering whether I would get back in after suspension.
“But the gaffer showed faith by putting me straight back in which I’m obviously grateful for.
“As soon as he came in, he’s been quite faithful to me.
“He’s taken me aside on a few occasions to offer me some pointers which is always good to have from a manager.
“He spoke to me about what I should be doing as a full-back and how he wants me to defend, looking at things like body shape in training.
“Most managers these days probably want a modern day full-back who can get forward.
“He wants me to defend first and foremost but to get forward as well in the final third and get quality balls into the box.”
Dundee have a full squad to choose from with the exception of long-term injury victims James McPake and Julen Etxabeguren.