Dom Thomas insists mental strength and hard graft were key to navigating his high-profile spell out of the Dunfermline side.
The 25-year-old appeared destined to be the heartbeat of Peter Grant’s Pars side at the start of the campaign, even sporting the captain’s armband in early fixtures.
However, Thomas was repeatedly hauled off during an underwhelming start to the Championship season, having failed to shine in an unfamiliar central midfield role.
Grant felt moved to address rumours of a bust-up with the player and, while he was effusive in his praise of Thomas’ talent, he publicly questioned his work ethic in certain fixtures.
— SPFL (@spfl) October 27, 2021
However, Thomas has started the Pars’ last three games and illuminated Tuesday night’s Fife derby draw against Raith Rovers with a stunning opener.
“The biggest thing in football is switching off to everything and be mentally solid,” said Thomas, of his absence.
“That is something that I deal with quite well.
“When I’m out of the team, I just have to keep plugging away and train hard every day.
“As the manager always says, he picks the team based on training.
“When you are in every day, it is a new chance to impress. I feel like I have always worked hard in training and I think you can see that on the pitch now.
”I know what I need to do and I know how much it means to the fans to go and put on a performance to try and get the three points.”
While Thomas is keen to accentuate the positive from his spell in the engine room of a rather ill-fitting 3-4-3 earlier this term, there can be little doubt he has shone out wide of late.
“When I was playing in the middle, I enjoyed it,” continued Thomas. “I was seeing plenty of the ball — but I have that creative part of my game and I can show more when I am out wide.
“As long as the team is working together then I would play anywhere…except goalkeeper — I don’t think that would suit me!”
He added: “Everybody is chipping in together. It is a great dressing room and we are as hurt as anybody.
“It is personal for me, I don’t want to go home with a point when it should have been three. I think about that all night.
“We have to take that hurt into Saturday’s game at Arbroath.”
‘You can see the positives’
Despite dropping two points in the dying embers against Raith, Thomas is adamant the Pars have ‘turned a corner’.
Dunfermline have notched five draws from their last six matches ahead of an onerous trip to face Arbroath on Saturday.
“You can see the positives — and I know that it is hard for the fans right now,” continued Thomas. “We have been playing well and I really do feel that we have turned a corner.”