Craig Wighton: Dundee manager tries not to overhype youngster

By Kenny CrawfordBBC Sport Scotland at Dens Park
Craig Wighton and Stuart Bannigan
Wighton scores as a second-half substitute against Thistle

Dundee manager Paul Hartley is trying hard not to place too much hype on the shoulders of youngster Craig Wighton, who has signed a new three-year deal.

The 17-year-old's neat equaliser against Partick Thistle acted as a catalyst for a more spirited second-half performance.

"We don't want to say too much about Wighton because we know how good he is," Hartley told BBC Scotland.

"He's got everything in his locker and got all the tools to be a top player."

Wighton rolled the ball past the on-rushing Scott Fox in the 54th-minute after Jim McAlister's run from midfield, with the player drawing praise from Hartley for the "cool and calm finish".

Hartley said of Wighton's new deal: "I'm delighted to tie him up for the next three years. We think he's the future of the club. We can only see him improving and getting better."

John Nelms, the club's managing director said Wighton is "an exceptional young talent with match maturity beyond his years".

He added: "We have agreed with Craig and his family the long term plan for his development which will give Craig the best opportunity to have a long and prosperous career at the highest level in football.

"Craig is a credit to the club and is a beacon that all of our Academy players should strive to follow."

Certainly, against Thistle Wighton spurred on Dundee in a match in which they had struggled to impose themselves in the opening 45 minutes.

"We were off the pace a little bit, we didn't pass it as well as we can," said Hartley, whose side now have three points from their opening three Premiership games.

"I think the players know that they're better than that. But we'll not be too harsh on them, they've had a tough week. They're a credit to the league and we'll take the point.

"In the second half the response was excellent. We kept having a go and got a great goal.

"We could've won it but credit to Thistle, I thought they were excellent in the first-half."

Gary Harkins had a penalty saved by Thistle's substitute goalkeeper Paul Gallacher just after the hour-mark.

The spot-kick came from Danny Seaborne's foul on James McPake at a set-piece, but the Jags had 'keeper Scott Fox red-carded by referee Craig Charleston for his part in a tussle with Paul McGowan in the aftermath of the penalty award.

Hartley, who stated he had not seen the incident involving Fox, refused to blame Harkins for the miss.

"It's one of those things but he's brave enough to take it," said the manager. "He scored one last week and if he gets another opportunity he'll probably score it.

"It's been solid start, we're hard to play against and we're a good addition to the league."