Dundee boss Barry Smith praises young central defence

Goalkeeper Rab Douglas congratulates defender Declan Gallagher
Goalkeeper Rab Douglas congratulates defender Declan Gallagher

Dundee manager Barry Smith heaped praise on young central defenders Kyle Benedictus and Declan Gallagher after

Injuries to more experienced players forced Smith to bring the pair into the side at Pittodrie last weekend.

"We said last week that we thought they handled [Scott] Vernon well up at Aberdeen," Smith told BBC Scotland.

"And today, against a very difficult pairing, Callum Paterson and John Sutton, they coped extremely well."

Smith hopes that 20-year-old Benedictus and Gallagher, who is one year older, will build on those two displays.

"It is great to see two young lads doing that to put in two performances," he said.

"It is only two performances, but hopefully they can grow in confidence and keep producing those performances for the season."

Smith was also pleased with performances of midfielders Nicky Riley and Matt Lockwood, whose free-kick won the game.

"Nicky gives you that out-ball and his pace allows you to knock that ball when you are under pressure," said the Dundee manager.

"He's done well and we hope that he can stay clear from the injury he had and goes from strength to strength.

"Matty has been in and out the team, but his two performances show what he's capable of and how good a player he actually is.

"It is a great free-kick and I don't think any goalkeeper is stopping that."

Dundee's victory is only their second in the league this season - the other also being against Hearts - and narrows the gap between themselves and second-bottom St Mirren to five points.

"We felt we had to be on the front foot," added Smith. "We are at home and we wanted to put pressure on them.

"We created plenty of chances.

"It is one result. The last time we won, we had a break.

"But fortunately we have another game next week and it's a great chance for the boys to show they are capable and take confidence."