New Dundee signing Lewis Spence is determined to make his mark in the Premiership after being given a chance to kick-start his career under his former Dunfermline coach, Neil McCann.
Spence, 21, moved to Dundee this summer from Dunfermline.
“It was a frustrating two season for me under Allan Johnston and Sandy Clark. I never played a lot – probably 7 or 8 appearances under them and that wasn’t enough for me considering the amount of games I played the previous two seasons. I felt I needed a fresh start – sometimes managers don’t take a shine to you and you need to move on and I felt the time was right to try and better my career. It was literally a phone call by Neil McCann that made me aware of any interest. The day he got the job, he phoned me that evening and said that he wanted to bring me to Dundee for a season as he knew what I could do; he felt he could get me back on track so it was an easy move for me in the end. It took 2 or 3 weeks to get over the line but, when someone gets an offer from a Premiership side, it is an easy decision but with Neil being there and knowing what he wants and what his standards are, it made the decision a no-brainer for me. It is a massive club, it has everything set in place – it is similar to what I was used to at Dunfermline; the facilities are great, big stadium, we get changed at the ground and then go into the local area to train so it isw very similar and it has been easy for me to transition into being a Dundee player. This is a big challenge for me, but it is one I am looking forward to and feel I am capable of achieving. I ain’t going up here to just sit on the bench or in the stand for a year and think “great, I am at a Premiership club”, I want to be playing. I won’t be playing every week, I know that, but I need to try get into the team and do well: I am a big team player and as long as they are doing good, that is all that matters, but, I feel like I have done well so far; I believe in my own ability, I feel I am capable of playing at this level and while some people mayy look at this news and be doubtful, they are entitled to their opinion, but I am determined to prove them wrong and show I can play in the Premiership and be a valuable player to Dundee. This is a season I need to become a man and I feel I can do that with Neil’s backing as he knows what I am capable of and believes in me. However, he won’t just pick me because he likes me as a player, I need to work even harder than I have before to prove to everyone that I am good enough.”
Looking at the season ahead, Spence is cautious to place any targets down so early on.
“We have set our own targets but we will keep them to ourselves right now. The one thing Neil McCann did say is he wants winners – that is the type of player and the mentality he is looking for. We know what we want to do and how we can get there but that will stay private. He is drilling into us about becoming winners and how to do it – if we work hard as a team, make it difficult to get beat and want to win everything we enter – even if it is just a training match – then he and all the rest of the boys feel we can have a successful season. Two wins so far – and that is all you need to do in cup games. We haven’t played anywhere near our best yet; it is early days, but I think we can still go up a couple of gears and we need to try do that over the next few games. We have a hard match on Wednesday against Cowdenbeath before heading into the Dundee Derby so it is a big few days for us but it will stand us in good stead for when the league starts.”
Speaking of Saturday’s win against Buckie, Spence continued:
“I was delighted to make my home debut. We got the win but we know ourselves we can play a lot better. We could’ve got beat in that match as we played poorly but that winning mentality that has been drilled into us saw us come good and in cup games, the main thing is winning. If you aren’t playing well and still win, that is a great attribute to have. I played around 60 minutes and I have been happy with my performances so far. Hopefully I can get more game time over the next two games and stake a claim for the rest of the season.”
Central Park is a place Spence well from his time with Dunfermline and he will look to take that knowledge into tonight’s clash.
“They are three divisions below us – it will definitely be a tough game. It is a tight park, they will be looking to make it hard for us. I expect they will sit in and for them, that is probably the right game plan, to make it difficult for us, as we are the higher leagued side. They’ll have their own threats but if we focus on our game, give 100%, move the ball quick and get at their defenders but we are confident of winning. There will certainly no complacency, especially with the foreign lads who haven’t experienced these lower league grounds before. We have standards, high standards, and we cannot let them drop. We aren’t going into tonight thinking it will be easy and we know we have to be right on our game to pick up a victory but I can guarantee the Dundee supporters that there will be no complacency as this is a competitive game and we know what we need to do to get through to the next round.”
Spence would not be drawn on Sunday’s Dundee Derby.
“It is a great game to be involved in but we cannot think or consider anything about that until after the Cowdenbeath game. If we get the job done on Wednesday night then it would set up a tasty match on Sunday as everyone in Dundee and Scotland, to be fair, know what it means to the supporters. It will be a really tough game, no matter what, but we can only focus on Wednesday right now and we know that if we play well and get the win then it sets it up for a great match on Sunday.”