Dundee loanee Zak Rudden 'can't wait' to face arch rivals Dundee United with Raith Rovers this Friday night

As a current employee of Dundee FC who is on loan at Raith Rovers until the end of the season, you couldn’t be blamed for thinking that this Friday night’s mouthwatering home league game for Raith against fellow Scottish Championship title challengers Dundee United – the Dens Park side’s arch rivals – has added significance for striker Zak Rudden.
Zak Rudden tackles Liam McStravick during Raith's 1-0 defeat to Airdrieonians in the SPFL Trust semi-finals (Pic by Fife Photo Agency)Zak Rudden tackles Liam McStravick during Raith's 1-0 defeat to Airdrieonians in the SPFL Trust semi-finals (Pic by Fife Photo Agency)
Zak Rudden tackles Liam McStravick during Raith's 1-0 defeat to Airdrieonians in the SPFL Trust semi-finals (Pic by Fife Photo Agency)

Rudden (24), was on the winning side the last time he faced the Tangerines – he came on as a late substitute for former loan club St Johnstone in a 2-1 Scottish Premiership success at Tannadice on February 18 last year – and is hoping for a similar outcome for his latest team as the second-placed Kirkcaldy side bid to creep within a point of United at the top with 13 more games left.

"I can't wait,” Rudden told the Fife Free Press. “Obviously from past and present clubs, playing against United is always going to be a big one.

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"We're in a title race with them so it's always going to be a massive game.

"If we can beat United it takes us just a point behind them so it's a very big game.

"I think everything's possible. We just need to get out of this rut quickly and I think we will. The game on Friday is a brilliant opportunity.

"I have experienced the rivalry playing for Dundee against United in the past. It's always a tasty one for me to play.

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"I think I always put an extra 5% in during every game but maybe against United I will put in an extra 10%, but we'll see.

"My career record against Dundee United has not been too great. I don't think I've scored against them but we've had some decent results against them when I've been playing.

"There have been a few draws and I beat them with St Johnstone, when I came on for the last two minutes.

"I think we're as good as United. But they are still a good team and we have to go and beat them or take points off them.”

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Ian Murray’s Raith have excelled against Jim Goodwin’s Arabs in the league this term, with a 1-1 draw at Stark’s Park in October followed by a 1-0 Rovers success at Tannadice in December.

Rudden said: "I would say Raith's record against United this season is a very good thing to have going into the game. We've had the upper had on them.

"I think a draw would do us but it would be a massive three points if we could get them and I think everybody knows that."

Raith are on a five-game losing streak but Rudden is staying positive.

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He said: "I think the boys know that it's a tough time, but we just need to stick together.

"I wouldn't say the confidence is low. We did well in the second half of the Inverness game and the Airdrie game was a freak kind of night.

"It just didn't really work out. We kept getting done on the counter attack.

"I think all the boys in the team are good players to play with. It's just trying to get that quick gel with them right away and get that game time.

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"Obviously I never got as long as I wanted against Airdrie as I had to come off.”

On his past experience of playing top flight football at Dundee and St Johnstone, Rudden added: "Playing in the Premiership with Dundee and St Johnstone has been brilliant.

"It's just obviously not kind of worked out the way I've wanted it in terms of getting enough game time.

"St Johnstone never really worked in terms of where the club were and me trying to get a run of games at that time because Callum (then St Johnstone manager Callum Davidson) was chopping and changing to get a result which was understandable.

"So if you weren't doing it in two games then you weren't getting another shot. He had to get results and it was a hard time for him."