Alex Jakubiak sees the light at the end of the tunnel after being in “a dark place” during his injury nightmare.
The former Watford striker has only managed five Dundee appearances since arriving last summer thanks to a succession of different injuries.
An ankle problem delayed the start to his Dens Park career before he went down with a seemingly-innocuous thigh issue at Inverness in December.
“It was the tendon in my right quad,” Jakubiak said.
“I completely tore it, about an 11cm tear. It came from nothing, just a little clip pass out wide.
“I’d never had an injury like this before and, at the time, it didn’t feel too bad.
“I wasn’t sure what I had done. It felt almost like a cramp but I thought I was fitter than that!
“It was only when we scanned it a few days later and found out how bad it was. Finding out I needed surgery was a shock.
“It was only when I woke up from the surgery that it all hit me, how serious it was.
“But I feel a lot stronger now and I just want to get back out there.”
Tough physically and mentally
Almost four-and-a-half months passed between his injury in the Highlands to a substitute appearance in the 2-1 win over Raith Rovers.
During that time Dundee have gone from revival to no hopers and then back to revival in their quest to return to the Premiership.
Now, though, they have found their groove and powered up the table to finish second after eight matches unbeaten.
Jakubiak may only have been able to feature in four minutes of that run – and is critical of his own showing that day, too – but is delighted to be returning to fitness with Dundee in good fettle.
— Alex Jakubiak (@AlexJakubiak) April 24, 2021
He even credits the confidence around the camp as reason for making him work even harder to get back in.
The Dark Blues are now four matches away from their goal of top-flight football.
They await the winner of the Raith-Dunfermline play-off quarter-final this week.
And Jakubiak says there will be no letting up from the Dark Blues, even if they have a week off ahead of the semi-final.
He added: “I was speaking to some of the lads and they said they couldn’t believe how quickly the season had gone but for me it’s the complete opposite.
“Just being in the gym working, watching the games and seeing the guys train, as frustrating as it is, has helped me come through stronger.
“I’ve got a more positive mindset coming back to training and the way the guys have been, it’s made me work that bit harder to get up to the fitness levels needed to match the rest of the lads.
“It’s been a tough season physically but mentally as well. I do feel I’ve come out of what you might say is a dark place but can now see the light at the end of the tunnel.
“The mood around the club has been very positive. We know the situation we’re in.
“All season we’ve been going into games believing we can win because we are a big club and need to have that mindset.
“We feel we shouldn’t be in this league but that’s the situation we find ourselves in.
“Now we have got into this situation we don’t want to waste all the hard work we have put in till now.
“So we’re going to push even harder from now till the end of the play-offs.”
‘I’m desperate to get back out there’
Jakubiak is pushing for a return to action before the end of the season but knows how much is on the line for the Dark Blues.
With that in mind, he’s aware game time will not come easily with promotion at stake.
But he’ll do his part when called upon.
“I’ve been desperate to get back out there from day one in the gym!” he added.
“That’s my mindset, I’m just eager to play and show what I can do. It’s been tough and frustrating recently not being able to play.
“It was good to get a few minutes at the end of the Raith game, it felt good.
“Although I am very self-critical and I know their goal was partly my fault.
“Even that, regardless of my injury, I know there are parts of my game I can work on and improve on. That will only come with playing games.
“I will keep working hard and I will hopefully get a chance in these games.
“It will be tough, though, because the lads have been doing so well.
“The performance on Friday night at Queens was pretty comfortable. We were good all over the pitch, solid at the back and Jason got his two goals. He’s in great form.
“It will be tough to get into the team but all I can do is keep working.
“As much as I want to play every minute, the only thing that matters is we win the ties. Our ultimate goal is promotion.
“So whichever team the manager picks, he has a lot of fit, strong, lads who are ready to go. Whoever he picks will do a good job.”