Dundee V Aberdeen at Dens Park Stadium : Match Preview

17 September 2016
Dundee V Aberdeen - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

Julen Etxabeguren relishing competition for places at Dundee

Julen Etxabeguren is ready to fight for his Dundee place and show manager Paul Hartley he can improve in his second season at Dens Park.

The 25-year-old lost his place after Kevin Gomis arrived last month but he came off the bench to replace the injured Darren O'Dea against Kilmarnock last weekend before the French defender was sent off.

With Gomis suspended and O'Dea battling to overcome a foot knock, Etxabeguren is set to face Aberdeen in the Ladbrokes Premiership on Sunday.

And the former Real Sociedad B and East Fife centre-back is determined to prove himself to Hartley.

"Competition is good for everyone," Etxabeguren said. "The more competition, the better you have to play. You have to train hard, and be ready for whenever the gaffer asks you to play.

"I have to improve but I learnt a lot last year. I had my injury but that is forgotten, and I'm really focused on this year. I try to be a better player every day and train as hard as I can."

Dundee, who could also welcome back Nicky Low and James Vincent, have gone 12 league games without beating Aberdeen and lost all three meetings between the teams last season but Etxabeguren is confident ahead of the Dens Park clash.

"We are really determined," he said. "We have to be positive. We have been improving all the time and I think we are able to beat them. We are solid and there are reasons to be positive."

Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes has reminded fans their uninspiring start to the season has been fairly typical.

The Dons won their first eight Ladbrokes Premiership matches last season but have only been triumphant once in five games this term.

However, their six-point tally is round about what they had at the same stage in their first two full campaigns under McInnes. They were seconds away from second place in the first year and have been runners-up in the subsequent two seasons.

McInnes said: "It's the exact same start we had two years ago and we went on to have a record points tally for a team outwith the Old Firm.

"When you gauge it against last season's start it is obviously going to pale into insignificance, because last season's start was a record for the club in all its history, eight wins in a row.

"That's unusual, to have as strong a start. What has been usual, the first season seven points from five games, the second season six points from five games and now we are something similar.

"We have only lost one game and that was against Celtic, who seem to be beating everybody except Barcelona at the moment.

"But at the same time the name of the game is winning. We have had a couple of draws in there, certainly the home draws against Hearts and Inverness, where we have been disappointed we have not maximised that with wins. But it is still early on."

McInnes has Jonny Hayes and Peter Pawlett back to full fitness while Graeme Shinnie, Callum Morris and Mark Reynolds could also feature. Captain Ryan Jack misses out with a knee injury.

McInnes added: "We have been without a couple of important players, we are still trying to hit top form and get the rhythm in our game.

"But I have no doubt the squad put together will mirror what the squads have achieved in recent years and find those levels of consistency.

"I understand supporters especially are looking to get the wins to get us challenging right from the outset but history has shown we normally get to where we want to get to."

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