As the city gears up for an intriguing second Dundee derby of the season, Ian Roache sticks his head above the parapet to select three crucial head-to-head contests and predict the outcome.
Jordon Forster v Lawrence Shankland
The Scotland striker will top the billing in the derby and if he scores even once then United will be confident of victory.
Shankland is more than just a goal machine but he is one hell of a goal machine. Without a doubt, he poses the greatest threat to the home side.
I suspect he will enjoy the roomy Dens pitch and will be difficult to pin down even if Forster and his teammates keep the closest of eyes on him.
The Dundee central defender, meanwhile, had one of those nights in the last derby, the lowlight being when Ian Harkes’ shot deflected off him on the way into the net. However, things have settled down for the likeable big man and his partnership with Jordan McGhee is working well.
He will be desperate to perform and if he keeps Shankland quiet, which is easier said than done, then he will be a hero in that home dressing room.
Prediction: Forster to play well but Shankland to score at least once.
Declan McDaid v Jamie Robson
Believe it or not, left-back Robson is United’s longest-serving player at the tender age of just 21 and was happy to agree a new three-year deal recently.
The local lad’s impact on the Tannadice side since returning from injury can’t be overstated.
It is not a coincidence that the Tangerines have kept three consecutive clean sheets since his comeback. He has the pace that will be required to deal with the runs of opponents such as McDaid.
This is a key contest because Dundee will be looking to get as many balls as possible to striker Kane Hemmings, who is back among the goals.
McDaid is a key creative player for the home team but also knows his pwn way to the net, bagging three goals in the last five games including a cracker at former club Ayr United.
Prediction: Robson to be one of United’s best players on the night and help keep McDaid’s crosses to a minimum.
Graham Dorrans v Calum Butcher
Former Scotland and Rangers midfielder Dorrans is Dundee’s best player. I think all his teammates would agree.
He has been outstanding for them in recent games and, like Shankland at United, operates at a level or two higher than Championship standard.
His pass to pick out Jamie Ness in a crowded penalty area for the winner against Morton was sublime and if a few of those are delivered on Friday then Dundee will trouble the Tangerines.
Butcher may not be United’s top player – that honour is reserved for Shankland – but he is absolutely crucial to them and was a star man with his two goals in United’s 6-2 win at Tannadice last time out.
He provides strength to the midfield but he can also pick out a pass and grab a goal or two, as we saw in the first derby.
That is why I don’t see United gaffer Robbie Neilson using Butcher to man-mark Dorrans, even though he is well capable of that job. That would be seen as a waste of Butcher’s talents.
Prediction: United fans to sit nervously watching Dorrans ping passes into dangerous areas and for at least one to lead to a Dundee goal. Butcher will also play well and help gets to grips with the Dundee man eventually.
Derby score prediction: Both sides are in form and both have goals in their team – Dundee 2 United 2.