He has a young centre-back Tottenham Hotspur manager Jose Mourinho is a big fan of – and James McPake says he’s always happy to give youth a chance at Dundee.
Malachi Fagan-Walcott joined the Dens Park side on loan from Tottenham Hotspur in the winter transfer window. Aged 19, he made his Spurs debut against RB Leipzig in the Champions League last season, the centre-back ‘popular’ with Mourinho (Athletic). Fagan-Walcott made his first home start on Saturday as Dundee beat Arbroath 2-0.
McPake isn’t aware of such adoration, but if the Tottenham manager rates him, that’s good enough for him: “I don’t know why he’s sent him up here! But he’s a young kid, maybe that is why, they have quality right throughout their squad. But if Jose Mourinho thinks about him, then I am happy he’s at my club.
“He’s done great since he came in. But he has a lot to learn, all young centre-back’s have a lot to learn. We have experience that will help but we are thankful to Spurs. He trains with their first-team group so we are thankful to them for allowing him to come up here.
“But he needs to earn the right to play and he got in against Arbroath. He did great but unfortunately picked up a little knock. But he will be fine.”
The Dee have introduced a host of young talent into their Scottish Championship promotion push this season alongside experienced pros, Max Anderson and Sam Fisher just two of those thriving.
McPake is glad to see players he had as U18s and Reserves manager at Dundee excelling in his senior plans: “A lot has changed in football to when I started. You were afraid to say anything and senior pros ruled the dressing room.
“Football is certainly different but the senior pros still run the dressing room. You want them to do that, the likes of Charlie Adam, Paul McGowan, Liam Fontaine, Lee Ashcroft, good pros. You want them to run your dressing room.
“It’s different at this club as I had a lot of the younger players as U18s manager. I had Max Anderson, Callum Moore, Josh Mulligan, Finlay Robertson, Lyall Cameron, Sam Fisher, Luke Strachan, Harrison Sharp and Michael Cunningham.
“They have all worked with me and when I got the job they were included in the first-team squad. But you don’t go straight from U18s football onto the senior pitch, you train with the first-team and get to know it.
“It’s good to see their characters change when they are in the first-team environment every single day. Max is quiet whereas Josh is the vocal one and will have a go back if someone has a go at them. They are all unique in their own unique way and it’s good to watch.
“I do think we have a real good mix of youth and experience. Max Anderson is a really good footballer who is unique in the sense that he’s a young midfielder who likes running forward. That sounds very basic but there aren’t many of them about at the minute.”
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