Dundee boss Mark McGhee sees chance to close gap on St Johnstone

Mark McGhee is hopeful this could be a pivotal weekend in Dundee’s fight to avoid relegation.

The Dark Blues are six points behind St Johnstone at the bottom of the table ahead of their trip to Tannadice to take on city rivals Dundee United on Saturday.

With the Saints traveling to league leaders Celtic at the same time, McGhee senses an opportunity for his team to try to cut the deficit and revive their hopes of survival.

“It’s an opportunity and the opportunity comes because of who St Johnstone is playing,” McGhee said.

“St Johnstone is going to Celtic and that is a very difficult game for them. I’m not ruling them out, it wouldn’t be surprising at all if St Johnstone went there and got something. But we hope they don’t because we need it.

“Three points (against United) would put us close to St Johnstone if they don’t win at Celtic Park, and it would also help from the point of view of the optimism it would generate going into the last five games.

“If we can beat Dundee United, it would give us the belief that we can do anything after the split.”

McGhee acknowledges that it’s a tall order for Dundee to stay awake, but he’s adamant that they still have a chance.

“I’m not sure confident is the right word, but I’m certainly optimistic that we can,” he said. “The odds are against us, but I think we believe we have it in us to win enough games to do that.

“At some point we have to start winning games and Saturday would be the ideal time to do that, but we have six games left to get those points, including against St Johnstone, so until it’s done, it won’t be done. ”

Dundee hasn’t won at Tannadice since 2004, but McGhee insists that’s irrelevant in the context of this weekend’s game.

“That’s more of a statistic than a record,” he said. “We haven’t always been in the same division, so you can juggle that however you want. The fact that we haven’t won there for so long really has nothing to do with this game.

“It will be a great occasion. It’s a shame we weren’t both fighting for a place in Europe, that would be good for us. It is an important game for us and for them. It has the ingredients for an exciting afternoon.”

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