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Russell Latapy, Assistant Manager at Inverness Caledonian Thistle

FORMER team-mates will do battle at Dens Park this weekend — but in the dugout rather than on the pitch.

Caley Thistle assistant manager Russell Latapy played alongside Dundee manager Paul Hartley in the same Hibernian team and is impressed with how his career has progressed.

Hartley took Alloa Athletic to consecutive promotions before taking the Dark Blues job in January this year. He followed that up with promotion to the top flight by winning the Championship title.

Alongside fellow promoted side Hamilton Accies, Dundee have subverted expectations by propelling themselves into mid-table and have recruited well — top scorer David Clarkson, a free transfer addition, has scored eight in eight games since joining in September.

Latapy is full of praise for Hartley, who he played alongside for two seasons at Easter Road.

"Paul has come up to the Premier League and done a fantastic job with Dundee. They’re sitting on 20 points and that’s a really comfortable place to be," he said.

"I’m sure he’s thinking like everybody else that it’s a long way to go until the end of the season. Like we’re thinking, he’ll be fairly happy with the way things are going but there’s always lots to improve. He’s going to work on improving his team as best he can.

"When I played at Hibs, Paul was just coming into the team and I’m sure he didn’t play as much as he wanted to. He was in and out of the team but was a fantastic footballer. He went on to Celtic and Scotland and had a fantastic career. Great player, great energy."

The Caley Jags have a full-strength squad to choose from bar Richie Foran, who continues his recovery from a knee injury.

Both Marley Watkins and Greg Tansey made their return to the side on Tuesday, contributing in the 4-0 demolition of an abject St Mirren side.

Watkins has been a stand-out performer this year and is the club’s leading scorer but will not let any plaudits or off-field distractions affect him.

"I’m not going to think too far ahead. I’m going to take it one game at a time, focusing on my football. Once you think of other stuff your mind drifts and you can get distracted," he said.

The former Swansea winger is one of the Caley Jags out of contract at the end of the season, while he has also been on standby for the last two Wales squads.

"It’s definitely a target of mine now to play for my country," said Watkins. "I definitely need to keep learning, keep progressing and I’ll get there one day."