Shaun Byrne is determined to repay the love sent his way from Dundee fans by helping keep the Dark Blues in the Premiership this season.
The 28-year-old has been a key figure in James McPake’s midfield over the past two-and a half campaigns.
And that was shown this month after the club rewarded the midfielder with a new two-year extension to his contract despite having missed much of the season with a knee injury.
Byrne, though, is back in full training and looking forward to being involved in a matchday squad for the first time since October against his old club Livingston tonight.
“I am buzzing as you don’t realise just how much you have missed it until you are back,” Byrne said.
“I knew straight away when it happened that it was a bad one.
“I just had to stay down as I couldn’t get up and I felt something in my knee.
“That was the first bad injury I’d had for a long time so it has been tough.
“It was also tough mentally. You struggle to do simple tasks like going for a shower.
“Even making meals was a nightmare and I could hardly do anything at all.
“I was on my crutches and had to keep my leg straight for six weeks so it was really difficult.
We are delighted to announce that Shaun Byrne has signed a contract extension until 2024 #thedee
— Dundee Football Club (@DundeeFC) January 10, 2022
“I tried to make sure that I was still going to all the games to be part of it.
“It was tough watching as you obviously want to be playing but I also wanted to support the team as well.
“I went to Ross County on my own to back the lads.
“So you do appreciate it more when you are back.”
Never thought about leaving
Back in contention and with his future sorted out, Byrne is looking forward to getting back out on the pitch.
And he is delighted to have committed his future to the club – should he see out the entire deal, that will see him reach five years as a Dundee player.
There was reported interest from Bradford City and Lincoln City down south but Byrne insists there was no thought of upping sticks any time soon.
He said: “I am settled here, my family is settled here and we foster a wee girl.
“It would be hard to leave without my missus and wee girl so I honestly never thought about it.
“I just wanted to get back fit and the gaffer had told me the club wanted to extend my deal.
“So I was pretty relaxed about the whole thing to be honest.
“I just wanted to concentrate on getting back fit.”
— Dens Park Choir 🇨🇵 (@DensParkChoir) January 7, 2022
With new contracts for team-mates Lee Ashcroft and Paul McGowan also announced, there were plenty of comments from Dundee fans online asking about Byrne’s future.
The midfielder is delighted to see that sort of affection from the club’s support, though his response was an understated one when asked about the fans.
He said: “It is good to see that the fans want me to stay.
“They seem to quite like me so it is up to me to continue to play well.”