Midfielder Ian Harkes has had a whirlwind 12 months at Dundee United but it’s all coming together for the American.
The midfielder signed up at Tannadice as a relative unknown last January – but quickly made a first-team spot his own.
The dream of promotion had to wait at the first time of asking as the Tangerines were beaten in the Premiership play-off by St Mirren in May.
Fast forward eight months and Harkes is nearing his 50th appearance for United, has helped his side to a 17-point lead at the top of the Championship and has been joined in Scotland by fiancee Sarah Teegarden after she signed for Celtic.
He also found the net in the Dundee derby in August, scoring United’s fifth goal as they romped home to a 6-2 victory (see video below).
Harkes told the Tele: “It hasn’t felt like a year, it’s gone so quickly.
“I have enjoyed it at Dundee United and in the city and it’s been a big year of growth for me in my game.
“This league has challenged me to increase fitness levels and the rate at which I play. It’s been a great challenge.
“The time on the ball you get is the big difference. In the States you get a bit more.
“Technically the leagues might be different but you are constantly pressing, moving and getting about the pitch.
“That brings more demand on the physical side of the game. I have enjoyed that, though.
“I think it’s added to my game. I did know what it was about before coming over but getting thrown right into it a year ago helped me out a lot.
“I’ve had to adapt quite a lot.”
Helping him adjust has been the arrival of fiancee Sarah after she signed as part of Celtic’s new professional ladies set-up (see video below).
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“She is excited to be over here,” Harkes added.
“She has played for some really good teams and it’s exciting Celtic are getting up and running full-time.
“Hopefully, it goes well for her there and it is nice to have her over here and playing.
“With both of us footballers, we have been in different places usually but she came over here in August or September to train with them so she has been here a while.
“That’s been nice and to get that opportunity at Celtic is huge for her career.”
And Harkes would be delighted to join her as a top-flight professional later this year as the Tangerines go for the title, racing clear of the chasing Championship pack.
Ahead of tomorrow’s clash with Greenock Morton, the midfielder, though, is aware that taking their foot off the pedal isn’t an option.
“We don’t ever want to become complacent,” Harkes stressed.
“We are in a good spot in the league but you never want to let that drop. Each game is tough in this league and we need to approach every one the same way.
“Now we have separated ourselves from the rest of the league we have to keep it going.
“Approach every game right and build on that lead.”
That includes ignoring Tuesday night’s big cup replay against Hibs at Easter Road.
“Tuesday is a big challenge but we have to focus tomorrow first,” he said.
“Hopefully, we can get some good momentum and confidence to take into the replay but we know it will be tough.
“Morton will come here tomorrow aiming to take points off us.”
When United and Morton met in August, the Tangerines took the three points, putting six goals past a despondent Danny Rogers in the opposition goal (see video below).
On the cup-tie, Harkes added: “Hibs were a good challenge for us last week.
“It was maybe a chance missed for us being at home but I think we fought back well into the game.
“Hopefully, if we can start better than them on Tuesday then we’ll give them a run.
“You could see when we settled into the game you could see we played well but we’ll need to do that from the start.
“Morton comes first, though.”