Dundee’s Darren O’Dea has paid tribute to fellow defender Nathan Ralph and his freakish levels of fitness.
The left-back had been out for more than two months after suffering a hamstring tendon injury but was thrown straight back in at the deep end from the start against St Mirren on November 10.
Remarkably, the 22-year-old former Woking player lasted the entire 90 minutes of the game with the Buddies and put in another full shift on Saturday against Hibs at Easter Road.
Ralph was up against new Australian internationalist Martin Boyle but the Dundee defender coped well with the flying front man and also provided an assist for Kenny Miller’s goal.
O’Dea said: “He impressed me.
“Ralphy was out for a long time but we played an 11 v 11 a while ago and if anyone watched it, it was seriously high intensity.
“He is a bit of a freak in that he is naturally a monster with his fitness. Athletically he is really well built.
“I thought last week (against St Mirren) considering how long he had been out and the amount of training he has done, it showed the natural fitness he has.
“I have high hopes for him and when he goes and plays a run of games, he will only get better.
“He is a natural left-back and Ralphy gives us that balance. Since he’s come in he has done well but hopefully now he will be thinking about kicking on.”
O’Dea admitted that things are finally on the up for the Dark Blues after the last two results and he is already looking forward to the crunch clash with Hamilton at Dens a week today.
The 31-year-old added: “The confidence is starting to grow now in the team.
“Results are obviously huge to that.
“The St Mirren home draw wasn’t what we wanted but it had been a long time since we had been in with a shout so we took a small positive from it.
“I thought for large spells of that game we were very good.
“It was a fantastic result (at Hibs). A point away at Hibs is always a good result especially when you have gone 2-0 down.
“So hats off to the boys, they were fantastic.
“We now have plenty of time to work for a massive game against Hamilton.”
Meanwhile, a new report has revealed that Dundee are paying the sixth highest wages in the Premiership.
According to the Global Sports Salaries Survey the Dark Blues’ players are on an average of £62,833 per annum – in contrast, St Johnstone spend £48,630.
However, champions Celtic are far and away the biggest spenders in the league with their players earning an average of £865,614 a year.