Dundee United defender Ryan Edwards believes he’s now showing why Micky Mellon brought him to the club after a tough start to life in the city, on and off the pitch.
Edwards, a summer signing from Blackpool last year, has been in terrific form of late for Mellon’s United after what he admits was a “slow start” to his Tannadice career.
The 27-year-old has scored twice in his last three games and been a crucial component of the Tangerines’ defence in recent morale-boosting wins over Ross County and Livingston.
Speaking after Saturday’s 3-0 win over Livi, which saw the Terrors return to the Premiership’s top six, the big Liverpudlian opened up on missing home, his cancer battle and how Covid-19 has made the adjustment all the more difficult.
“It’s not been ideal with Covid, in terms of mixing with the lads off the pitch because we haven’t really been able to,” he said.
“We’re in our own bubble in the training ground but, in terms of playing football, I’m enjoying it but I probably had a slow start with the standards I set myself.
“I feel like I’ve come into the team lately and made my mark, showing why the manager brought me here.
“That’s not just the goals, I think I’ve been performing a bit more like myself and, hopefully, that continues.
“Sadly I never got another goal on Saturday but, obviously, the three points and the clean sheet is most important for me.
“You know what you’re going to get against Livingston. It’s going to be tough battles – it always has been since I’ve played them.
“Saturday was no different and we managed to come out on top.”
Defender finally settled in city after bout of homesickness
Everything seems to be coming together at a good time for United and the big centre-back, but Edwards admits it was a real struggle trying to settle in Dundee at first.
Without his partner, still at home in Liverpool, and finding it hard to lay down roots in the city, it’s not been an easy ride for Edwards.
He added: “About a week or two before I signed a contract up here my missus got a new job she wanted so we’ve been sort of working it between here and Liverpool.
“Obviously, because of the Covid rules we’ve not been able to do much and it’s been hard, really hard.
“Especially over Christmas, it was difficult, but I’m here for work at the end of the day so it is what it is.
“It’s tough but you just have to get on with it.
“I’m settled now in the area but, to be fair, it was hard at first trying to find somewhere.
“I was moving from hotel to hotel and I couldn’t get anywhere to even view a place because of Covid – it was all online.
“I’ve finally got somewhere now so that makes life easier.”
Cancer battle still very real for Edwards
Back in 2018, Edwards’ world was turned upside down with a diagnosis of testicular cancer while at Plymouth Argyle.
Thankfully, the Englishman made a speedy recovery, but monitoring his progress still poses its challenges – only amplified by the restrictive coronavirus pandemic.
He continued: “I missed the 2-2 against St Johnstone at home, the game that got rearranged, because of my check up.
“The day before, the Monday, I had to leave the bubble.
“What happens when you get cancer is you have to get six-month check-ups for five years.
“Originally, we were off the Monday and then the game got rescheduled to Tuesday and I couldn’t play.
“I missed my Covid test and couldn’t be involved but I’m all right and it’s working out on the pitch now.”
Tangerines are a “different team” after Motherwell defeat
As for the football, Edwards reckons their second-half display in a 2-1 defeat at Motherwell earlier in the month was the turning point for United.
The Tangerines were much improved after a half-time gee-up from boss Mellon, with Edwards’ header giving them hope late on at Fir Park.
“I don’t think much has changed,” he said.
“We’ve never been low on confidence but the second half at Motherwell was the turning point, in my opinion.
“We’ve taken that performance into the last two games and we’ve deservedly had two good wins, two clean sheets and we’re back in the top six.
“At half time in that game, we knew it wasn’t good enough and we were told as much, not that we needed it.
“We came out a different team and have carried that through. Hopefully it continues for the rest of the season.”
Top-six ambitions for United as they head for Ibrox
A top-six finish remains the goal for the group and, on current form, Edwards reckons they can still achieve it – even with a daunting trip to face league leaders Rangers at Ibrox on Sunday.
He added: “It’s absolutely still our ambition. We know St Mirren have got a couple of games in hand, which is out of our control, but we can only do our job.
“That’s keep winning and it’s going to be tough at Rangers but, of course, we have to believe.
“You’ve seen teams give them tough games, as we did when we played them here.
“Going to Ibrox is a different thing but why can’t it be us to upset their unbeaten record?”