COMMENT: James McPake has brought freshness to Dundee squad on pre-season trip

© SNSJames McPake.
James McPake.

When you are covering pre-season trips, it is always tempting to read too much into them.

Last year in Portugal, all seemed well with Dundee.

It was a friendly and happy Neil McCann who welcomed myself and my Evening Telegraph colleague George Cran to their training camp in Albufeira.

McCann’s enthusiasm for his squad and their hard work in the Algarve sunshine was infectious.

Results against the local sides weren’t great but that didn’t matter because it was all about getting fit and gelling the new signings together.

There was then a bump in the road with the speculation that central defender Steven Caulker had left the camp under a cloud.

Overall, though, McCann appeared to be the man and all was well at Dens Park.

Of course, things went downhill like an avalanche in the season to follow and relegation was the Dark Blues’ fate.

That’s why you should be cautious but there is something to like about James McPake and his squad over in Spain.

They played very well against Nottingham Forest on Tuesday night, albeit you wouldn’t be backing the two-time European champions to get anywhere near promotion to the English Premier League.

What I like about McPake is that you sense a genuine desire to inject youth into his team.

He may not have the luxury of using too many youngsters during what is expected to be a frenzied title battle with city rivals United.

It is still nice to see a Dundee team containing more than one 16-year-old. It has brought a freshness to their pre-season programme.

The lesson is to be cautious considering last season’s calamitous campaign but it also feels right to be just a little bit positive about this Murcia malarkey.