“I’m ready to go.”
Precisely the words Dundee want to hear from captain Charlie Adam with potential Premiership play-offs looming.
A third consecutive draw may have delayed securing a place in the Championship top four and left a second place finish in serious doubt.
However, the return of the Dark Blues talisman to the team and the impact he had in the second half at Inverness give hope this season can yet be a success at Dens Park.
Covid-19 saw Adam unavailable for two weeks in March but the midfielder has revealed it has taken him time to recover fully from the illness.
He has played since but the 35-year-old says it’s only now he is starting to feel like his old self.
After taking a place on the bench in Dundee’s last four fixtures, Adam is determined to bring the sort of form he showed against Inverness on Tuesday to Saturday’s key home clash with Raith Rovers – and beyond.
“I’m fit. I’m ready to go,” he said.
“It doesn’t matter how fit and ready, though – I have no given right to play in this team every week.
“The illness was a setback for me, obviously, and the team played well when I was ill.
“Coming back into the team, with 45 minutes on Tuesday, with performances like that, you just have to put it into the manager’s mind for the next game.
“That’s all I try to do.”
‘It’s easy to sulk, you have to show the right mentality’
Though he wanted desperately to be back out on the pitch helping his side, Adam was determined to continue setting the standards as club captain, substitute or not.
And he hopes he’s done enough to lead out the side at Dens on Saturday.
He added: “It is always tough sitting on the side. I’m not any different from anyone else. At my age, I want to play, but that’s football.
“The manager makes that decision and you respect it.
“I’ve always believed that, when you get an opportunity, you have to show the right attitude and mentality.
“I hope that 45 minutes against Inverness gives him that headache for the weekend.
“It’s easy to sulk, easy to just sit there, but as an experienced player, it is important I show the demands, set the standards.
“I have to set the right example for the football club.
“I want to win football games, get into the play-offs, finish second.
“And I do believe we have the team that’s good enough to get through these play-offs and play one of the Premiership teams.”
On recovering from coronavirus, Adam revealed how far it set him back.
Manager James McPake said at the start of the month: “Covid knocked him for six a wee bit and it took him a while to get himself back into what he felt was the level he should bring, even in training.”
And Adam says it’s only now he is starting to feel back to his best.
“It was tough – I had four or five tough days with Covid,” Adam said.
“Two weeks after it, I came on against Arbroath and felt terrible. Even in training I never felt great.
“But over the last week, 10 days, two weeks, I’ve started to feel good, getting minutes here and there.
“When the team’s playing well it is difficult to get in and you just have to wait for your opportunity.
“Hopefully Inverness it gives the manager a thought.
“I feel good and ready – and at my age, that little break maybe helped!
“The play-off games are going to come thick and fast and I’m looking forward to it.”
Dundee missed the chance to secure that play-off place as they drew 1-1 with nine-man Inverness on Tuesday night.
Despite a positive second half display which saw the Dark Blues dominate, they were held to a third consecutive draw in the league.
And that has left them four points behind Saturday’s opponents Raith, meaning they need victory at Dens and then a favour from Hearts combined with a win at Queen of the South to grab second spot.
Post-match talk in the Highlands centred on the referee’s performance with a controversially disallowed Jason Cummings opener a contentious point for the Dark Blues.
“It is the second time we’ve been here in Inverness where a decision has cost us three points,” Adam said.
“It wasn’t offside – it’s a goal.
“In the second half we dominated the match, even against 11 men.
“We switch off when they’re down to nine men and they score the goal. We bounced back in the right way and managed to get the equaliser, but the offside decision was a huge blow.
“But in this situation we have to dust ourselves down and go again.
“There are two games to go and it’s an opportunity to climb into the play-offs.
“We’re a point closer and we need to produce two big performances in the next two weeks, really.”
‘On our day we can hurt teams’
He added: “It sets us up for a huge game on Saturday against Raith Rovers.
“We have to do our business and win two football matches, then we’ll sit down and see where we are.
“The form is good – we’re unbeaten in six – and we just have to concentrate on ourselves.
“We know that on our day we can hurt teams in this league.
“There’s no medals given at this moment in time.”