He may have been a Dundee player for a year already but frontman Alex Jakubiak is determined his Dens Park career starts here and now.
After leaving a nine-year stay at Watford behind him, the 24-year-old was keen to put down roots with the Dark Blues.
That was following loan spell after loan spell as Jakubiak clocked up nine temporary stays with clubs north and south of the border.
On signing, he said: “At Dundee I have somewhere I can just get my head down and, hopefully, play as many games as I can, score loads of goals and prove a point.”
However, injury after injury meant the Scotland U/19 international has been unable to prove that point.
‘I’m not stupid’
First an ankle problem ruled him out for the start of the campaign. He then managed four games before a serious thigh injury saw him sit on the sidelines for four months.
Jakubiak would return to fitness for the closing stages of the season, coming off the bench against Raith Rovers in the penultimate league match of term.
But he admits he never expected manager James McPake to change a winning formula with promotion on the line.
“Had it been a normal time, the club would have had games during the week like reserves or youth games I could get minutes,” Jakubiak exclusively told the Courier.
“That would have really helped my cause in getting game-time and being better prepared if I was to be called on in a first-team game.
“Obviously because of the pandemic, we weren’t able to do that.
“I was still working hard in training but the only way you can get match-fit is by playing matches. It sounds obvious but it’s true.
Obviously every player wants to play but I’m not stupid. You could see how good the team was doing and the manager didn’t want to disturb that.
“Everything was clicking, it was just working and that showed in results and performances.
“It was a great run to the end of the season and through the play-offs and we deservedly got promoted.
“There was never a time I felt I should’ve been in the team. I just wanted to get as fit as I could after the injury.
“I was realistic so I just worked as hard as I could, over the break as well, to get where I am now.”
Mental hurdle at Station Park
And now he feels like he is ready to show Dundee fans what he can do after getting through his first pre-season match unscathed.
Jakubiak started the 3-0 win over Forfar Athletic at the weekend, looking bright and dangerous as he led the line in the first half.
He admits, though, there was something of a mental hurdle to get over at Station Park.
Dundee’s close-season preparations got under way for the late start to the Championship last September.
After signing in August, it was Jakubiak’s first chance to impress in dark blue.
However, that run-out ended early with the ankle injury that kept him sidelined until November.
So getting through the first pre-season match unscathed was job No 1.
“It’s been a long time,” he added.
“I came on against Raith for five minutes at the end of last season but to get 45 minutes under my belt on Saturday was good physically and mentally.
“Last year I got injured in the first pre-season match so it was a mental battle I had to come through.
“Thankfully I did that with no problems.
“Even though last season was out of my control with the injuries, it was still disappointing. But I feel I’ve learned a lot about myself.
“It was something I hadn’t been through before and now I know how to cope with things like that.
“I’d like to say this is me starting now.
“I feel strong and sharp.”
‘There’s something about this group’
Dundee’s promotion celebrations showed a team who clearly enjoy their time together, whether that’s on the pitch or testing out chandeliers late at night.
Jakubiak says that camaraderie between the entire squad helped him through his period on the sidelines.
That’s despite spending less time together than usual with players throughout last season driving to training and games on their own and not being able to use dressing-rooms pre- and post-match.
That, though, shows what a special group of players they have at Dens Park says Jakubiak.
“We have a good group but it’s been difficult not being in the changing-room together and building that up,” he added.
“We are with each other less than we would normally be but we still managed to create that togetherness and team spirit.
“I don’t know, there’s something about this group. There’s a good balance of everything you need in this team.”