Racchi relieved to be back

Leicester have added one teenage defender to their Under-21
ranks and allowed another to join Ilkeston Town on loan.

Jide Maduako, 18, will stay with Ilkeston for one month and
could make his debut for the Derbyshire club on Saturday when they
host Whitby Town in the Evo-Stick League Northern Premier
Division.

Maduako joined Leicester’s academy last season, signing his
first professional contract with the Foxes at the end of the
campaign and subsequently becoming a regular for the Under-21 team
this term.

Meanwhile, City have added promising youngster Karlton Watson to
their Under-21 ranks.

Subject to clearance being received from the Football
Association and the Football League, the 20-year-old defender will
join the club’s development squad under the guidance of coach Steve
Beaglehole after signing a professional contract this week.

The Dark Blues have picked up considerably in recent weeks and
are on a three-match unbeaten league run which has seen them move
to within a point of second-bottom Saints.

And Smith insists it is up to them to carry on the good work
which will see them leapfrog Danny Lennon’s men with a win in
Paisley.

He said: “We’ve been getting the right sort of results recently
which has obviously been pleasing.

“The lads have deserved it for all their efforts but it’s only a
start as far as we’re concerned. The important thing now is to make
sure we keep it going.

“I’ll be asking them for more of the same against St Mirren and
in the weeks to come.

“When you set a standard you like to try and maintain, which is
our aim.

“It won’t be easy as St Mirren are still a good side but we’ll
focus on ourselves and see where it takes us.”

Smith knows the Buddies have hit a rough patch recently but is
adamant that will not make his side’s task any easier.

He said: “Even though their results haven’t been all that good,
I don’t think St Mirren have been playing all that badly.

“We know what they’re capable of as they came to Dens Park and
won 2-0 earlier in the season.

“They have a good mixture of youth and experience who know what
the SPL is all about.

“We don’t read anything into their results of late because we
know that one win can start to turn things round for you.”

Dundee hope to finally move off the bottom of the table but
Smith knows league placings mean nothing at this stage in the
season.

He said: “It’s still early days. There’s a lot of football still
to be played between now and the end of the season.

“It would be nice to get off the bottom and it could be positive
psychologically for us.

“That’s what we’re going to try and do but this game won’t
decide anything.”

Dundee are still without injured skipper Stephen O’Donnell
(hamstring), Carl Finnegan (knee), Jamie McLuskey (Achilles), Brian
Easton (hamstring), Mark Kerr (knee), and Davide Grassi (knee).

Forward Mark Stewart has stepped up his comeback from a knee
operation earlier this season but is still some way away from
playing.

The 25-year-old former York City player has been out since early
October recovering from a knee injury which eventually required an
operation.

After a couple of setbacks during his seven weeks’
rehabilitation period under Killie physios, Alex MacQueen and Ross
Goodwin, the Englishman is ready for action.

“The last game I played was Aberdeen at home, so this will be my
seventh week,” he said. “I tore my cartilage in my knee. I actually
did it against Hearts but I trained and played the following
week.

“I got an operation five weeks ago and my knee is feeling
good.

“It hasn’t been easy. After the operation I couldn’t really do
anything for four or five days.

“But I have been doing rehab every day and the physios, Alex and
Rosco (Goodwin) have been absolutely brilliant. They have had to
put up with me moaning at times, but they have been brilliant and
that is why I got back so quickly.

“I am a horrible patient, not the greatest. I was asking every
day if I could step it up a little bit more and they were saying
that I wasn’t ready.

“A couple of times I went out running as part of my assessment
and broke down, there was a bit of pain and the knee swelled up
again so I have had to take a couple of steps back.

“But I’m back training and got 60 minutes in a reserve game
against St Mirren and now I have to work hard to get my shirt
back.

“Hopefully, I will be in contention to make the bench or
whatever the gaffer needs me for.

“The boys have done well but I am working towards getting myself
back in the team.”

Racchi takes inspiration from Dundee United winger Gary
Mackay-Steven who has scored three goals in his last four games
since recovering from a similar injury, including one in the 3-3
draw with Kilmarnock at Tannadice last Friday night.

He said: “I know Mackay-Steven had the same operation as me,
although I had a little bit of ligament damage.

“He played against us when we beat them 3-1 at home, that was
his last game before he went in for an operation.

“It is a similar timescale, he is back playing and playing
well.

“I watched him against us last Friday night and he was flying
and so if I could get back as quickly as he has done then I will be
happy.”

Killie could go third with a win over Saints but, with a tough
schedule looming, Racchi is setting his sights a little lower.

“The league is very tight at the moment.” he said.

“We have a busy time coming up over Christmas and we have got to
make sure we are in the top half of the table.

“St Johnstone is not an easy game. The first game I missed was
against them and I went up to watch and they played very well (to
win 2-1).

“But hopefully we can cement ourselves in the top-six for the
fixtures coming up over Christmas.”