To say that the City of Discovery is gripped by derby fever at the moment would be something of an understatement.
Next Friday evening’s mouth-watering clash at Tannadice is set to be watched by a 13,400 sell-out crowd with tickets for the game like gold dust.
However, Declan McDaid insists the Dundee players have to put all thoughts of the derby with United firmly on the back burner and instead fully focus on what is immediately in front of them –this afternoon’s game with Inverness at Dens.
The 23-year-old, who was signed by Dens boss James McPake from Ayr United this summer, said: “There is a buzz about the city that the derby is coming up but we can’t afford to get sucked into that.
“We have to focus on Inverness first because you can’t look too far ahead.
“The derby is going to be a massive game but we can’t let it distract us.
“I know how big they are from playing in an Ayr v Killie derby, which has a real intensity about it down in Ayrshire.
“I didn’t actually realise how much they hated each other until I played in it. The build-up was great and it was clear nobody took it lightly.
“The fans were having a go at each other after the game.
“But we can’t get caught up in thinking too much about next Friday, we have a game this weekend and it will be difficult against Caley.”
Dundee have already played John Robertson’s Highland side this season in the Betfred Cup.
McPake’s men won that tie 1-0 but McDaid insists no-one at Dens is taking anything for granted today.
The winger added: “We beat them in the cup so they will be looking to get one back on us for that.
“Inverness are such a tough team to beat, they had a ridiculous record of draws last season but were still up there.
“I think they will be one of the top teams again this season.
“Hopefully we can get a good result this weekend and then think about Dundee United after that.”
Since Dundee last played Inverness at the end of last month, they have added to their frontline firepower with the addition of Kane Hemmings for what is his second spell at the club.
And McDaid is relishing providing the ammunition for all the strikers at Dens – just as he did for a certain Lawrence Shankland when the pair played together at Ayr.
He added: “Kane scored a lot of goals the last time he was here in the Premiership, while Danny Johnson was scoring for Motherwell last season.
“And Andrew Nelson has really impressed me since I came here, so there are loads of goals in the team.
“As a winger, it’s good to have people you know can score and I know if I get the ball into the right areas it will lead to goals.
“We have a lot of firepower because the gaffer has signed some very good strikers and obviously Dundee United have signed Lawrence Shankland.
“I haven’t spoken to him much, but I’m sure we will have a bit of banter next week. Hopefully I’m the one happy at the end of the week.”
Dundee lost out to Premiership outfit Aberdeen in the Betfred Cup last Sunday, losing in extra time to the Dons.
However, McDaid insists there were plenty of positives to take from the performance into this afternoon’s Championship match.
He said: “We have taken a lot from the way we played against Aberdeen because they are one of the best teams in the country and we took them all the way.
“That performance has been coming. We have been working hard on getting it right and things clicked.
“Hopefully we can keep it going because we can get much better.
“That was the standard we have set for ourselves, we have to reach that bar every game.”
McDaid has already experienced other teams setting the bar high when they face Dundee, who are one of the favourites to win the league this year.
He added: “Because the club came down from the Premiership, people raise their game and there is a bit more respect there.
“Personally, I have played against most of the teams now so they know more about me and it’s harder to get space.
“So I have to improve too, work out ways to create space for myself and still get those balls into the box.
“This is a crazy league, though. You saw that last year.”