Returning to the Premiership is a huge task Dundee are ready for says striker Jason Cummings.
The Dark Blues kick off their top-flight return next Saturday at home to St Mirren.
And former Hibs and Rangers man Cummings is determined to get off to a scoring start on day one after getting his first goal of the campaign on Wednesday night.
It may be a real test making the step up from the Championship, however Cummings has already put one big hurdle behind him this season.
‘I was absolutely floored’
Little did he expect one of his toughest tasks of the summer wouldn’t be getting through pre-season.
Rather managing to get from his bed to his fridge and back.
Struck down by the virus that has brought life as we know it to its knees in the last 16 months, Cummings has revealed just how horrible an experience it was.
One that gave him a “reality check”.
“Covid hit me hard,” he said.
“It’s actually the second time I’ve had it. The first time I had no symptoms but the second time, wow – for four days I couldn’t leave my bed.
“I was in pre-season for a few days, starting to get fit and then that hit me so I was back to square one.
I underestimated how bad the virus is. I’d been annoyed at masks and not being able to live a normal life but then I got a reality check.
“I was absolutely floored. Going to the fridge and back was an impossible task, I was just so weak.
“Just doing the simplest task was really tough. I lost my strength, my legs were aching and I really struggled for three, four days.
“It killed my pre-season a bit but I’m starting to feel better now. It set us back but I’m ready to go now.”
‘My breathing wasn’t the same’
Cummings’ positive case was announced on June 26 and he remained out of action until July 6.
He resumed light training to begin with, missing both friendlies against Leyton Orient and West Ham, before coming off the bench against Brora last week.
And he admits returning to training was no walk in the park either.
“My first day back at pre-season was horrific, it was tough,” he added.
“It hit me hard. I struggled for five days and probably a good six weeks after that I struggled to play football at the level that I wanted to.”@Charlie26Adam talks about his experience with covid. Charlie has now had both doses of the vaccine.@NHSTayside | #thedee pic.twitter.com/S3oT1WADHI
— Dundee Football Club (@DundeeFC) July 7, 2021
“My breathing wasn’t the same either but I worked with the physios and we have a good team here.
“I’ve started to get my fitness back up and I feel 100% now. But after the 10 days I wasn’t 100%, it took another week to actually feel back to myself.
“Everyone can get it and get it anywhere which is the scary thing.
“From my experience I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy, it was absolutely brutal.”
‘One of the best changing-rooms in my career’
After netting eight times for Dundee last season following his January switch, Cummings is already on the goal trail this term.
The Dark Blues may have taken it easy with his return after the Covid setback but the 25-year-old looked in full flow at Montrose on Wednesday.
He notched his first strike of the season to open the scoring from the spot and looked lively.
Having finished second in the Championship last term, Cummings reckons Dundee will be expected to struggle in the top flight by some.
However, he says the Dark Blues might spring a surprise or two.
And a big part of his confidence comes from the togetherness throughout the squad.
“It’s one of the best changing-rooms I’ve been in through my whole career,” he added.
“The boys are a close group, training is good, tough and serious, but you get a good laugh with the boys as well.
“There are good characters here, we have a good changing-room and that shows on the pitch.
That’s massive. In my experience, when the changing-room isn’t great, bit flat and not much banter, you don’t get the results on the pitch.
“When it’s a close group, you can tell in the performances.”
He added: “I think we’ll surprise a lot of people. Obviously people will think we’ll be at the lower end of the table but between me and the boys, we are confident we’ll do well.
“We know we are good enough to be in this league, I’m just excited to get going now.”
Goals or points?
Goalscorers like Cummings are often obsessed by their goals-to-games ratio, however he says attitude has changed as he’s grown older.
And keeping life simple is key for the Scotland cap.
“I just want to enjoy myself, to be honest,” he added.
“I look to score every single game, so it depends how many games I play, how many goals I get…
“Now, though, I take more pride in the three points than scoring.”