DUNDEE GOALKEEPER Kelvin Jack faces a Dingwall deadline of 1.45 pm to join up with the rest of his team-mates—or face the consequences.
Jack may have been the toast of Trinidad and Tobago on Wednesday after his superb late save against Bahrain helped his country through to the World Cup finals in Germany next year, but the big keeper is not flavour of the month with Dark Blues boss Alan Kernaghan.
The Caribbean star had contacted his Dens gaffer on Thursday to give an assurance that he would be back in Dundee yesterday afternoon, but it transpired that he had, in fact, returned to Trinidad and would not arrive back in Britain until the early hours of this morning.
With regular keeper Derek Soutar ruled out of today’s game against Ross County after sustaining a knee injury in Tuesday night’s draw with Hamilton, it is imperative that Jack gets back in time as Dundee’s only other keeper is 17-year-old youngster Scott Murray.
Kernaghan was less than impressed with his keeper’s waywardness.
“I have to watch what I say because I need to speak to Kelvin again and the Trinidad FA to get the full picture, but I would say his chances of making the game are no better than 50-50,” he said.
“I am not happy because the other Scottish-based players—Marvin Andrews, Russell Latapy and Jason Scotland—all made it back.
“I’m still hopeful he’ll make it back in time.
“I spoke to him on the phone, informed him of Soapy’s injury and told him he has to be in Dingwall by a quarter to two.”
Should Jack not turn up in time for the Ross County match there is a strong possibility he will have played his last match for the Dens Parkers.
Kernaghan intimated that he had already spoken to the players’ union regarding the matter and he is clearly unhappy that the goalie returned to Trinidad instead of leaving the chartered flight in Spain along with the other British-based players and flying to the UK.
The player’s own revamped travel plans had him arriving in Manchester early this morning to connect with a flight to Edinburgh, but Dundee have taken over his itinerary and booked him on a later flight to London. This will, however, mean he can catch a flight to Inverness and be driven the 13 or so miles to Dingwall from there.
Clearly, the situation is not ideal and it would be no surprise if Kernaghan decided to go with Murray against the side sitting second top of the table even if Jack became available.
The Dens boss has already expressed his confidence in the youngster who has proved himself a capable stand-in whenever he has been called upon.
Murray stood in for Jack in a Bell’s Cup match against Airdrie United back in August when international duty again called and was the hero that night, saving two-spot kicks in the penalty shootout to send his team into the quarter-finals.
This is a crucial match for the Dark Blues as they attempt to make some inroads into the substantial lead built up at the top of the table by St Mirren.
At present under the command of caretaker-boss Gardner Spiers and his assistant, former Dens star Brian Irvine, County have survived the loss of their managerial team, John Robertson and Donald Park, to maintain their fine early season form and currently sit six points clear of the visitors.
The Staggies have won their last three games and are unbeaten at home, while Dundee have struggled to put any sort of consistent run together.
However, goalkeeping concerns aside, Kernaghan feels the home side have a number of weaknesses his team can exploit and he was pleased to report that most of the injury worries had eased.
Strikers Simon Lynch and Tom McManus had been doubtful but both look like being in their usual places.
“We need to get on top of them early,” said the Dens boss. “It would be nice to get the first goal and take it on from there.”