Hamilton V Dundee at New Douglas Park : Match Preview

11 August 2017
Scott McMann getting used to mind games required at top level

Hamilton defender Scott McMann is getting used to the mind games required for the rigours of top-flight football in Scotland.

The 21-year-old defender came through the Accies youth system and made his senior debut in 2013 but only broke into Martin Canning's team last season.

Ahead of the visit of Dundee in the Ladbrokes Premiership on Saturday which is Hamilton's third game of the week, he spoke of how the mental side of the game is just as important as the physical aspects of playing in the top flight.

McMann said: "It's week-in, week-out. You can't really switch off. Your next game is never far away and you have to be on it at training all the time to perform at the weekend.

"You have to be switched on mentally for the game as well as physically.

"At this level you switch off for one minute and you get punished, especially against the top teams and especially me as a defender, you have to be on your mettle all the time.

"It is about experience. How to manage it and how to stay concentrated when when the going gets tough in games and you get tired. I am learning a bit more every week.

"To be honest this time last year I wouldn't have thought I would play 30 or 40 games but I have loved it, I have really enjoyed it.

"We are lucky that way at Hamilton in that if we are good enough we will get a chance. We might not have got that at another cub so we are grateful for it."

Accies go into the game following back-to-back defeats by Aberdeen.

Canning's side lost 2-0 in their league opener at Pittodrie last Sunday then went down 1-0 at home to the Dons in the Betfred Cup on Wednesday night.

McMann, however, was heartened by the level of performance against last season's runners-up in all the major competitions.

He said: "Albeit we have had two defeats and not scored any goals it has been encouraging.

"We have proved against Aberdeen that we can match them and I thought we were great on Wednesday night but it is a results business and we have to put that right on Saturday.

"If we can keep that intensity against Dundee I am sure we can come away with a result."

Xavier Tomas is suspended but fellow defender Alex Gogic should be back from a knock and attacker David Templeton is expected to have recovered from a calf complaint.

Meanwhile, Neil McCann has challenged Faissal El Bakhtaoui to find the self-belief that will make him a permanent star for Dundee.

The 24-year-old French-Moroccan lit up Wednesday night's derby win over Dundee United with a stunning first-half volley.

He crashed an unstoppable strike off the underside of the crossbar to send the Dark Blues on their way to a 2-1 Betfred Cup victory over their next-door neighbours.

It was an emphatic display of what the former Dunfermline ace is capable of.

But McCann admits a crisis of confidence has prevented El Bakhtaoui from fulfilling his true potential following his step up from League One last summer.

The Dens Park boss, however, has no shortage of faith in his little playmaker and reckons he can grab at least 10 goals this campaign so long as he can maintain his new-found inner strength.

"I think Fayc has got all the attributes to get into double figures this year and I want him to do that," he said.

"I want him to feel he's got the backing and the support of the management team, which he certainly does, and the players.

"Added into that, I want the fans to back him - to not get frustrated when it doesn't come off.

"He's a mercurial talent who will come up with the sort of thing the other night - a piece of magic no-one else can do.

"But there will be times when he misses easier chances like he did the other night.

"That's for us to work with him and make him better. But he's so keen to do that.

"I think he can shine here - but he has to believe in why he is here. He has to believe in his own qualities."

Captain Darren O'Dea returns from suspension for the trip.

However, McCann says the club is still monitoring Sofien Moussa's knee injury after he sat out the derby.

Defender Kostadin Gadzhalov is also missing with a calf strain while long-term absentees Craig Wighton (knee), James McPake (knee) and Julen Etxabeguren (Achilles) remain on the sidelines.