By Craig Turnbull
Dundee defender James McPake hopes city rivals United preserve their Premiership status as he would miss the battle of the Dundee derby.
United’s chances of survival suffered a blow on Tuesday as Partick Thistle beat Mixu Paatelainen’s men 1-0 to leave them five points adrift of Kilmarnock in the relegation play-off place with only six games to go.
McPake, who suffered a serious knee injury which ruled him out of the rest of the season in the 2-1 win over United in January, says having no derbies would be a loss.
“The games have been exciting,” he told PLZ Soccer.
“I’d never seen them before until I played in them and the atmosphere is good. There is no nastiness, it’s two sets of fans wanting their team to win.
“For the 90 minutes they hate the opposition fans and that’s it done.
“We beat them for the first time in 11 years last time which was a great night for our club.
“I’ve been involved where they’ve beat us 6-2 so it’s not all been great but the atmosphere is good and it’s a game you looking forward to playing in. It’s a game we will miss if it’s not there.”
McPake still believes their arch rivals can pull off the great escape after looking certainties to go down only a few weeks ago.
“I think they can stay up but it depends on how the other teams do above them,” he said.
“If they can get to within a win of Kilmarnock then they’ve got a chance but it just depends how they are going to react as well.
“It’s tough because they had the momentum until Tuesday they’d got to the semi-final of the Cup.
“Paton’s return has been a big driving force for them.
“There are six games to go and the league table can’t lie but looking at them I’m surprised they are down there.
“It won’t be easy but I definitely think they can do it.”
McPake has been out for three months with the knee problem but says he is still hopeful of being back in time for pre-season at the start of next season.
“The recovery has gone well. That’s me 13 weeks post-op so we are at the stage now where I need the pins, wires and screws out,” he said.
“They are restricting how far I can bend it and what exercises I can do so they are coming out in two weeks so I think from then I’ll get a better indication of how it’s going to go.
“The aim is still to get back for pre-season training, to be ready and start back with the boys.
“It’s looking like that will be the case at the minute but there is always the risk of setbacks so we’re aware of that.
“It’s a serious injury so we need to make sure everything is right. It could be a week later or a couple of weeks later as long as we are in pre-season then I think everybody will be happy.”