Dundee star Jordan McGhee is refocused and re-energised after “going through a tough time on and off the field” and is ready to help fire the Dark Blues up the Championship table.
Last season’s Players’ Player of the Year returned to the Dundee starting line-up with a bang in Inverness last weekend.
And he’s looking to build on his new-found freedom in the middle of the park when high-flying Dunfermline come calling to Dens Park this weekend.
The move paid off with McGhee playing a major role in Liam Fontaine’s opening goal, crashing a header off the bar, before grabbing a well-taken equaliser with eight minutes to go.
It may have been unusual to see the defender storming into the box time and time again, however McGhee has plenty knowledge of the position.
He said: “I loved it. It’s been a tough time for me recently as well so to be out there expressing myself and be free felt brilliant.
“I actually played there when I was younger when I first went to Hearts but the taller you get, the further back the pitch you go.
“I played in midfield in a bounce game against Forfar last week and everything felt natural again, as if I’d been playing there my whole career.
“It paid off a little bit at Inverness, though we would have liked the three points. I managed to get the goal but I had a couple others and probably should have scored more, to be honest.
“I think I did alright in the end, though.”
‘Everything was going against me’
The former Hearts and Falkirk man sat out the previous two matches as new signing Fontaine stepped into central defence.
As difficult a time as it was for the entire Dundee squad after the woeful 2-0 defeat at Ayr, McGhee reckons the time out helped him get his head straight.
“It probably did,” he added.
“I’d been going through a tough time on and off the field and that hadn’t happened in my career so far, nothing was falling for me and it seemed like everything was going against me.
“It was a blip and the manager spoke to me and made me see that.
“It’s the first time that’s happened in my career so it was good to be out and recharge the batteries, refocus my energy into things. I think I’ve done that.
“It’s been tough but I have a good family and friends around me.
“It was tough mentally, obviously it has been for everyone with what’s going on.
“I’m in a good place now, though, and I’m ready to go for the rest of the season.”
Dunfermline game ‘massive’
McGhee and his team-mates felt victory in the Highlands at the weekend slipped from their grasp as they fell further behind league leaders Hearts.
Next up is another key clash with second-placed Dunfermline checking in at Dens Park this weekend.
McGhee knows how big a contest this one is but is confident the Dark Blues can build on their recent improvements and get the vital victory they are searching for.
“Dunfermline is a massive game,” he said.
“They are flying this season, though they got a bad result on Saturday. If we keep going the way we are we’ll be fine.
“They are a tough team who have been on a high this season and got some great results, the Hearts one in particular.
“But we have players in our team who can put their stamp on the game and if we show the same fight and commitment we did at Inverness every week we’ll be a match for anyone.”
He added: “We started the season with big expectations and we didn’t live up to them, myself included.
“Every one of us had to have a look in the mirror and after the Ayr game everyone was all guns blazing.
“Since then we’ve kicked on and are all fighting for each other, it’s great to be part of.
Something changed after that Ayr game and we knew we needed to start fighting for each other and be there for each other on that pitch.
“I think that’s showing – probably last season we’d have rolled over after going behind at Inverness.
“The fact we kept going to the end and were unlucky not to get a third at the end is a massive pat on the back for us and the coaching staff.
“We felt comfortable in the game and were devastated to go behind. I think he was about two yards offside which was a sickener.
“Inverness are a really good team in this league, very dangerous, and we were bitterly disappointed not to come away with three points considering the effort everyone put in.
“However, it may turn out to be a good point come the end of the season.”