Dundee skipper Darren O’Dea is determined to end the year on a high by retaining his place in the team against St Johnstone on Saturday and hopefully help secure a rare victory in Perth for the Dark Blues.
The Irishman made his first appearance for Neil McCann’s side since November 18 on Tuesday, coming on as a sub for the injured Josh Meekings against Celtic at Dens.
The club captain was unable to prevent the Hoops winning the game 2-0 but the 30-year-old was just glad to be back on the pitch after his frustrating spell out of the team.
That last appearance a month ago came against Kilmarnock with the centre-half being sent off for the second time this season.
His first red came against St Johnstone in September with Dundee winning 3-2 despite being reduced to 10 men.
Now, O’Dea would like nothing better than to skipper the team to victory over Saints on Saturday to register Dundee’s first win at McDiarmid Park since 2014.
He said: “When you don’t play it’s frustrating but I wasn’t confused about why I wasn’t in the team.
“It was very simple – I’ve picked up too many red cards.
“The two lads who came in (Meekings and Jack Hendry) have done very well so while that’s frustrating for me, I just have to accept it.
“It’s one game I have been back in for now, so if I get another opportunity then I have to take that and try to stay in the team.
“I want to keep the jersey now but we have a lot of competition so we will just have to wait and see.”
When asked what boss McCann had said to him about picking up red cards, O’Dea replied: “The manager has told me not to do it again!
“I have picked up a few injuries this season and naturally I don’t think I recover as quickly.
“I have picked up two yellow cards late on in games when I have been fatigued.
“What I have done is worked hard on my fitness so when I do get my chance again I’m as fit as possible.
“The Celtic game was one match, now I want another chance because I believe I will get stronger with matches.”
O’Dea added: “It would be good to finish the first half of the season on a high with a win over St Johnstone.
“But in my time at Dundee we haven’t been great up there in Perth so we have to perform better than we have in the past.
“St Johnstone are a good side, they are well-drilled and have good players so we will need to be at our best.
“We will need to be better than we were against Celtic but I have no doubt we will be.
“We have a good manager who pushes us. Everyone knows it wasn’t good enough and we will be out to make amends at the weekend.”
Celtic cruised to victory at Dens with McCann lamenting that his players showed a lack of bite and aggression.
O’Dea said: “It was a very disappointing result. We were slightly off it.
“The application was there but we were a bit apprehensive and if you are like that then Celtic will punish you.
“That was the case and the manager was right to talk about the lack of aggression.
“We didn’t have that full commitment to go, press people and tackle them.
“We are not happy about that. Nobody wants a team performance like that, but we have another big game coming up on Saturday and we will dust ourselves down for that.”