Dundee have received a big boost with the news that skipper Gary Harkins will definitely be at the club next season after triggering a clause in his current contract.
The influential playmaker signed a two-year deal with the Dark Blues in 2014 to begin what was his third spell at Dens.
That contract was due to run out this summer but the 31-year-old who is producing some of the best form of his career since being handed the captain’s armband following the departure of Kevin Thomson to Hibs has now played a certain number of games to guarantee himself another year at the club.
That development is something which has delighted his boss Paul Hartley.
The Dens manager said: “Harkins will be here next year.
“He’s triggered his contract so he’s played the amount of games that was required.
“We’re delighted because he’s playing at the top of his form just now and he’s very happy, too.
“This is as good as I’ve seen him and he’s clearly enjoying it. He really likes being at this club.
“He’s at that age now where he’s got the responsibility both on and off the pitch.
“He’s really playing well. He’s taken that captain’s armband and is leading by example.
“I think having the armband has given him that extra responsibility which he’s thriving on.
“Other people are feeding off him so Gary has got a major part to play for us this season.”
Hartley also revealed that he will open talks soon with other players who are out of contract this summer with the manager admitting he is keen to bring stability to his squad after two years of major changes.
He said: “We’re hoping Paul McGowan will be here too along with most of the other guys.
“We want to try to build the squad. We don’t want to decimate it.
“It’s that time of year when we’re speaking about contracts.
“We’ll sit down with the majority of the players in the next couple of weeks.
“Our focus is obviously on trying to get as many points as possible in the league, but players who are out of contract need to be spoken to.
“Without a doubt, there will be far fewer changes than we’ve experienced in the past couple of years.
“There will probably be three or four arrivals at the most.
“We’ve had a word with a couple of players but that’s as far as it’s gone.
“I don’t think you can make rash decisions without knowing where you are and it depends on league positions as well, in terms of the finances.”
Dundee are unbeaten in their last four games and recorded another impressive win in the Tayside derby with St Johnstone last Friday night.
Tomorrow, the Dark Blues travel to face a Kilmarnock side they thumped 4-0 on the opening day of the season but Hartley is taking nothing for granted against a team desperate to move off second bottom place in the league and impress their new boss Lee Clark.
Hartley added: “They will get a lift from the new manager.
“They played well on Tuesday night against Rangers in the Scottish Cup.
“All new teams usually get a lift from a new manager coming in. We see that being the case on Saturday.
“I actually spoke to Lee last summer.
“He was trying to take Blackpool to Budapest (where Dundee have trained over the last two summers) and he phoned me up to see what the camp was like there.
“We had a good chat and I wished him all the best earlier in the week when he got the job.
“I’m looking forward to meeting up with him again.
“They’ve had indifferent spells this season but they’ve picked up in the past few weeks so we know it will be a difficult game.”
Dundee will be without Nicky Low who is needing an injection in his ankle.