Darren O’Dea has opened up about his frustration at watching from the sidelines as Dundee’s season went from bad to worse.
Recalled to the starting line-up by new manager Jim McIntyre against Hearts on Tuesday night, he was unable to stop Dundee slipping to a sixth successive league defeat at Dens Park. He has urged Dundee players not to feel sorry for themselves but concedes the team are “miles away” from where they ought to be after ten games.
O’Dea had to remind himself of his own advice as he toiled to break into Neil McCann’s starting XI. The centre-half, who was club skipper last season, had started only one match in the current campaign before being recalled for the defeat on Tuesday that left Dundee rooted to the bottom of the table. He had fallen seriously out of favour with the last manager despite being fit and desperate to contribute.
“Of course it has been frustrating this season, I’m a footballer and I want to play football,” said the 31 year old.
“Since I came to the club I had played almost every game and I considered myself to be an example to others.
“I have been very hard on players who haven’t been playing in the past, telling them they have to be pushing the people in the team.
“You can’t just train with the team, you have to do extra. You can’t be saying that you need five games to get fit because your chance might come for 30 minutes and you need to show what you can do. I have been in the gym non-stop and doing extra waiting for my chance to come again. It’s hard when you are not in the side, but with the amount of moaning and pushing I have done in the past I had to heed my own words.”
O’Dea is not comforted by a Premiership table that shows Dundee, despite a wretched start underlined by six straight league defeats, are still not detached at the bottom. St Mirren are just a point ahead, albeit having played a game fewer. Motherwell, meanwhile, are just two points clear. “I am not interested in looking at the league and thinking we’re okay,” said O’Dea.
“We can’t look at the table and take consolation from the fact we are not detached. I look at it in terms of a points total by the split and we are miles away from that.
“We are miles away from the amount we wanted at this stage ten games in. You can be detached very quickly in this league so nobody here is looking at the table thinking we are alright.
“We are in a tight spot but looking around the dressing-room, we have the character in there to fight our way out.”