Christie Elliott says “it was just a matter of time” before Dundee found their feet in the Championship and he’s determined to keep the feel-good factor going tonight at Arbroath.
The Dark Blues endured a difficult start to the campaign and before their clash with the Red Lichties in December had only won one of their five league matches.
Fast forward seven weeks and James McPake’s side can move into second place with success at Gayfield tonight.
Elliott, who has made the right-back slot his own this season, says the upturn in fortunes is just reward for the players sticking together through difficult times.
Until a minor injury say him miss the cup win over Bonnyrigg Rose, the former Partick Thistle man had started 11 matches in a row and is expected to return to right-back tonight at Gayfield.
In racking up the appearances, Elliott triggered a contract extension that’ll see him stay with the Dark Blues until next summer at least, something he is delighted about.
Elliott said: “There was a little incentive in my contract to get another year. I had to hit a certain target which I did.
“I am loving my time at the club and I was very fortunate to have that clause in my deal so I am looking forward to next season as well.
“There is a real feelgood factor at the club at the moment, especially with the way we are playing and the results going our way.
“I think it was just a matter of time. We have always had a good squad but there were certain games at the start of the season where we were a bit unfortunate not to get the results we were looking for.
“But it was important that we all stuck together, which we did, as you can see now with the way results are flowing.
“We just have to keep this momentum building.”
After getting over their poor start, Dundee are now undefeated in their last seven matches in all competitions – a run that stretches back to November.
And Elliott reckons team spirit has been key to turning the campaign around at Dens Park.
“I think in any team, that is one of the biggest factors,” he added.
“We all believe in one another and want to go that little bit further to help each other which I believe this team does.
“We have a really good squad and no matter who is playing, they are going to give 100% and have each other’s back.
“That is a very important factor in being a successful team.
“In training, it is really competitive and in games, even if you are playing well, you are still not sure of your place as we have such a good squad.
“The older lads always keep on at the younger ones to give them confidence and keep doing the good things they are doing.
“It is important as a team that we try to stick together now and keep this run going.”
Tonight’s clash with Arbroath will be Dundee’s first league game that required all players to be tested for coronavirus after new rules were implemented last week.
The Dark Blues have experienced that before in their preparations for cup matches against Hibs.
And Elliott says that despite the discomfort of the actual test, it means players can go into these games with minds at ease over possible contact with the virus.
Of the test, he said: “It is not the best, to be honest but it is better being tested as at least you are going into games knowing you are a bit safer compared to prior when we weren’t.
“Obviously, you could get it any place but we are getting tested twice a week so we are trying to do everything we can as a club to minimise the risk.
“Even if you are being tested, you can still catch it but being tested does ease your mind a bit as you are getting told that you don’t have it. So it does help in that sense.”
As well as implementing new testing for the Championship, the governing bodies shut down the lower leagues as cases rose across the country.
That meant Elliott’s former club Partick, whom he spent eight years with, are unable to play in League One for three weeks at least.
And Elliott has sympathy for all players having to miss out in the lower leagues.
Asked if he appreciated being able to continue playing even more after seeing Leagues One and Two shutdown for three weeks, he said: “Yes, massively. I have a few pals who still play at Partick and a three-week break is hard.
“You are at home and just have to do your own thing. You miss the banter with the lads and that momentum of keeping going.
“It would have been really disappointing if our season had come to a standstill especially with the way we are playing at the minute.
“So I feel for them and we are lucky to be in a position where we are getting tested and still playing – we have to make the most of that.”
Conditions not ‘the most pleasant’
As for Arbroath at Gayfield, Elliott knows just how difficult it will be to pick up three points despite the Red Lichties sitting bottom of the table.
However, he’s confident the Dark Blues have enough about them to stretch their winning run to five matches.
He added: “Every team you play in this league gives you a difficult game.
“Going away we know the conditions probably won’t be the most pleasant.
“We have to take a lot of confidence from our previous matches and go into this game believing we are going to win it.”