Determined Dundee skipper James McPake has vowed to prove his doubters wrong and return from long-term injury.
McPake has been sidelined since breaking his kneecap in last January’s Dundee derby.
The experienced defender knows only too well what he is up against, having recently suffered a recovery setback that is likely to keep him out until the turn of the year.
Former Coventry centre-back McPake, 32, has returned from a broken back in the past and feels he can use that experience to his advantage.
Speaking exclusively to Courier Sport from Dundee’s Austrian training base, the Dark Blues’ defensive rock insisted he will still have a big part to play in the coming season.
McPake revealed the first two months of his recovery were “a breeze” and he remains determined to bounce back despite the most recent medical assessment ruling him out until January.
He said: “Rather than a setback, I think it just showed me I need to go a bit slower.
“I was maybe a bit optimistic when I said I wanted to be back by the start of this season, and I realised that quite quickly after I said it.
“People will maybe be surprised when I say this, but I’ll be extremely disappointed if I don’t have a big part to play in the season.
“I’m gutted I’m watching the boy’s training – I want to be out there.”
McPake added: “People doubted me because I had a back injury before.
“If I can prove people wrong then fine, but that’s my worry, it’s more proving it to myself and my family.
“I’ve no doubt I’ll be back playing.
“The only thing stopping me is time.
“I’m looking forward to getting back, but I need to get it right for the sake of my career – and my life.”
If anything positive has come from a lengthy spell on the sidelines it’s that McPake has been given vital coaching experience by boss Paul Hartley.
The defender has recently gained his grade A licence and fancies a career in coaching at some point in the future.
He said: “It’s something I’ve been working on for years now. It’s what I want to do.
“I was helping out with the under-20s and the gaffer knew I was keen on doing coaching.
“As soon as the injury happened he was in the hospital and my house saying that he (Hartley) wanted me to be involved and do bits and pieces for him.
“A lot of times when you have injuries you sit in the house bored and it fries your brain.
“I’ve been on the bench during derby games and big games at Ibrox, not as a coach, but that side of it – different from being a player
“I don’t know anyone else who has had that experience. I’m very grateful to the manager and to the club.”