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What they are missing . . .

There is still an hour to go before training and Mickael Antoine-Curier is careful not to over-exert himself.

Mickael Antoine-Curier is desperate to repay Hamilton. Picture: SNS
Mickael Antoine-Curier is desperate to repay Hamilton. Picture: SNS

Given that he has taken a seat at a small table inside New Douglas Park, there would seem little chance of him suffering injury, but the Hamilton Academical striker is still wary of tripping over his words. There is too much at stake at Dens Park this afternoon, right? "Yes."

It is a curt response but one which Antoine-Curier likely felt sufficient since the significance of a match with Dundee should perhaps have spoken for itself. The clubs occupy the top two places in the SPFL Championship - the Dens Park side lead by just one point - and the ambitions of other clubs have still to make up the ground; Falkirk are only six points off the top and have a game in hand, yet are still to move beyond talk of the play-off places.

A lack of competing interests has at least left more room to lay out the facts. Neither Hamilton nor Dundee can win the title today, only a football match. Hamilton lost in the reverse fixture in November but have persisted with a challenge, and giving Dundee a bigger cushion with another defeat today would not smother the hopes of the Lanarkshire side. "They are top and we are in second, chasing them. My motivation is to be top," said Antoine-Curier.

It is a spartan ambition and one which the forward made deliberately since his last visit to Dens Park ended in acrimony. A former Dundee player - he spent 18 months there before leaving for Hamilton in 2009 - he returned to Tayside on trial during the summer following a brief stint in Kazakhstan which was marred by racism. He was allowed to leave again with not so much as a word.

"My agent offered me to Dundee when I came back to Scotland and they didn't want me, so Saturday is a good chance for me to show them that they missed out," said Antoine-Curier, who has scored four goals this season. "Dundee didn't even call me back, give my agent an answer or anything like that.

"When Alex Neil [the Hamilton player-manager] knew I was available he didn't waste any time. I'm grateful to Hamilton for giving me the chance to come back and I'm trying to repay them as much as I can."

That has served as his motivation, although Peter MacDonald has found form without the need for sentiment. The striker is joint-top scorer in the Championship with 12 goals so far this season and his absence due to injury was felt acutely last weekend as Dundee faltered to defeat against Livingston. There had been some concern that the striker would miss out again this afternoon but a scan on his foot has since suggested that he could be available to play.

"There was severe bruising on the foot after I got a kick against Raith Rovers," said MacDonald. "It happened 10 minutes before half-time and it was agony. I said at the time that I thought I had broken my foot because of the level of pain. I couldn't take my boot off so just played on with it.

"I then told Karen, our physio, that my foot was absolutely killing me so I was sent for an X-ray. It was clear so we realised it was severe bruising on the bone. Even now it's a bit tender when I stand but it's not too bad."

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