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Why Dundee signed a fourth goalkeeper in Jon McCracken

The Scotland youth international returned to Dens Park this week after an earlier aborted loan move in the summer.

Dundee's Jon McCracken joined on loan from Norwich City. Image: SNS.
Jon McCracken is back at Dundee. Image: SNS

A new goalkeeper wasn’t a high priority for Tony Docherty at the start of the January transfer window.

However, a Scottish Cup exit at Kilmarnock that saw third choice stopper Harry Sharp play the majority of the game changed the Dundee manager’s mind.

Trevor Carson was unavailable due to a long-standing knee injury that rules him out for games on artificial surfaces like the one at Rugby Park.

No 2 Adam Legzdins stepped in for his first appearance since July but conceded twice in the first three minutes and was forced off in the first half due to an eye problem.

Adam Legzdins comes off with an eye issue. Image: SNS
Dundee’s Adam Legzdins was replaced in the first-half at Kilmarnock. Image: SNS

Sharp then played the final 53 minutes and took the gloves for the trip to Livingston last weekend, again a plastic surface keeping Carson out.

The No 1 would return for the trip to Aberdeen and is expected to be between the sticks for Saturday’s clash with Hearts.


Jon McCracken’s situation, meanwhile, became an opportunity for Docherty to boost his options in goal to avoid similar situations like that at Kilmarnock.

After starting the season at Dens Park on loan from Norwich, the Scotland youth international’s stay was cut short following Tim Krul’s Carrow Road departure and the arrival of Carson in August.

Harry Sharp saves Andrew Shinnie's penalty. Image: SNS
Harry Sharp saves Andrew Shinnie’s penalty at Livingston. Image: SNS

He would then join Accrington Stanley on an emergency loan and played 11 times in League One but a broken arm cut that spell short.

He’s still not back to full fitness on that front but is expected to be available by mid-February.

Having played for both Dundee and Accrington this season, McCracken was left in the situation that he couldn’t then turn out for another team due to FIFA rules.

So the answer to both problems – a new goalkeeper wanted at Dens Park and McCracken’s inability to sign for anybody new – was a return to Dundee for the Norwich man.

Response to Kilmarnock cup loss

Docherty wanted to avoid a repeat of the situation at Rugby Park by bringing in a new option in the goalkeeping department.

“It was a wee bit on response to the cup game at Kilmarnock,” Docherty admitted.

“Jon McCracken is one we’d kept in touch with.

“He took the option to go back to Norwich and then go out elsewhere.

“But he’s now in a position where it is good for him to come back. He’d played for two clubs and he knows this club, knows me.

Jon McCracken has returned to Dundee. Image: Dundee FC.

“He’s a good kid and I know he’ll contribute.

“I know what I’m getting with Jon. It was a no brainer.

“He had a pre-season with us and played the first four games, kept two clean sheets.

“He’s a proper goalkeeper, a really good goalkeeper.

“But he’s really well known and popular among the squad.

“It’s an easy fix for him coming in and I know how much he’ll contribute.”

‘Strong competition’

The signing only reinforces the message that Docherty isn’t messing around when he says he wants competition for places.

Dundee boss Tony Docherty
Dundee boss Tony Docherty at Rugby Park. Image: SNS

Not only does he want a selection headache across his outfield positions but he also wants first-choice Carson to be pushed as much as possible.

“Like I’ve said right the way through, I just want competition at all levels whether it’s goalkeeper, whether it’s left wing or centre midfield,” Docherty added.

“I want competition for places.

“Jon now brings us really, really strong competition in the goalkeeper department.

“Trevor Carson, Jon and Harry Sharp came in and acquitted himself well.

“That’s brilliant as a manager to have that selection headache.

“It’s not just competition but that they are all good team-mates as well, every one puts their shoulder to the wheel.”