Scottish Premier League

Gardiner pays tribute to Smith

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Wed, 20 Feb 2013 18:09:00

Veteran Tottenham goalkeeper Brad Friedel will play against Lyon on Thursday, denying Hugo Lloris another start against his former club in the Europa League.

Friedel has been Andre Villas-Boas' preferred choice in Europe after Lloris usurped the American as the club's No.1 in the Premier League.

Striker Jermain Defoe (ankle) has not travelled with the squad, but is expected to return to training next week., while Sandro, Younes Kaboul and Tom Huddlestone (all knee) all remain out.

Lyon midfielder Steed Malbranque is available to face his former club again after recovering from a bout of flu which forced him to miss the weekend's 4-0 win over Bordeaux.

Malbranque started last week's first leg at White Hart Lane, which Spurs won 2-1 thanks to two Gareth Bale free-kicks either side of a stunning goal from Samuel Umtiti.

Yoann Gourcuff missed out last week and against Bordeaux due to a groin problem, while reported Premier League target Bafetimbi Gomis will lead the line.

Smith's departure was confirmed in a short statement on their official website and brought to an end his long association with the Dark Blues.

The 39-year-old captained the club and made 400 appearances as a player before returning to Dens Park as first team manager.

He also guided the club through their 2010-11 campaign - dubbed the 'Dee-Fiant' season - after Dundee retained their place in the First Division despite a 25-point deduction for a second descent into administration.

However, results this season have left the club rooted to the bottom of the Clydesdale Bank Premier League, 15 points behind nearest rivals St Mirren.

Asked how tough a decision it was to part company with Smith, Gardiner told Sky Sports News: "It was extremely difficult.

"It would be extremely difficult for anyone who knows anything about Dundee.

"The word legend is too often bandied about but he has been here for 17 years, through two administrations, coached the club, played for the club, captained the club, led it out at Hampden.

"He brought 'Dee-Fiance' after a 25-point deduction. Outrageous and amazing things.

"However football is a very cruel game."

The club statement read: "Dundee FC today announced that they have parted company with manager Barry Smith with immediate effect.

"Until matters regarding this have been formally concluded, no further statement will be made."

Dundee look set for a quick return to the First Division, following their hasty promotion to the SPL.

They were late additions to the top flight in the summer, after replacing Rangers, and have struggled to compete throughout the campaign.

Smith's future came under scrutiny in early January, with reports suggesting his position would be discussed by the club's directors.

He then appeared to receive the backing of the board, who acknowledged the difficult task he has faced this term, while vowing to boost their survival bid by adding new players before the transfer deadline.

David Morgan was signed on loan from Nottingham Forest and former fans' favourite Gary Harkins also returned to Dens Park.

But results failed to improve and the SPL strugglers have not registered a single victory in their last 12 league outings.

Club chiefs now begin the search for a new manager, with Dundee facing a daunting trip to Celtic Park to face the league leaders on Sunday.

Former Dunfermline and Aberdeen boss Jimmy Calderwood has emerged as an early favourite with bookmakers for the hotseat.

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