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‘Fans didn’t see my best in injury-hit season’ says Dundee’s Julen


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Julen Etxabeguren has asked himself whether the switch from part-time to full-time football was to blame his injury-hit start to life at Dundee.

But after much soul searching the big Basque centre-back is sure he’s just had a run of really bad luck.

Julen suffered a freak eye injury that required an operation as well as shoulder, hamstring and ankle problems in his maiden season with the Dark Blues.

It is like nothing he has ever experienced, having been largely injury-free at previous clubs Real Sociedad and East Fife.

And, keen to put last season behind him, he knows it’s nothing he ever wants to experience again.

“I have had some injuries in my career but nothing quite like what I suffered last season,” said the 25-year-old Spaniard.

“I am stronger now both physically and mentally because of it. But I can only hope that all of that bad luck is behind me. I’m pretty sure it is.

“I have asked myself whether the switch was to blame.

“It could be. But the problems were not really muscular. A lot of them were issues with joints or my eye.

“So I have come to the conclusion that this was not really the problem.

“If it were it may have been easier to deal with but my fitness before this was not a problem.”

On his previous injury record, Etxabeguren is confident in saying last year was unprecedented, even when he was a kid in San Sebastien.

Julen Etxabeguren (left) on a bike ride at Dundee’s Austrian training base. Pic by David YoungJulen Etxabeguren (left) on a bike ride at
Dundee’s Austrian training base. Pic by David Young

“I have not been injury prone in my career,” he said.

“Last season was so frustrating for me because I am not used to this.

“Sometimes in football you cannot explain these things, no matter how many experts look at a situation. Some of my injuries were just freak problems.”

The amount of games missed does leave a bad taste in Etxabeguren’s mouth.

When he was able to get on the pitch for any length of time it was clear to see there was a very good player there.

But the problem was he was just unable to string enough consistent performances together.

“For this reason people did not see the best of me,” he said.

“The whole season was start and stop. I would like to have a run of games at the start of the season and then maybe I can show the fans just what I can do when I am fully fit.”

Dundee boss Paul Hartley, despite having Etxabeguren, Darren O’Dea, James McPake and Kosta Gadzhalov on his books, is keen to add yet another centre-back to his squad.

That doesn’t worry Julen, though. He says competition is no bad thing in any squad.

And any new player would just bring the position into line with the competition elsewhere in the team.

“There is good competition in every position, not just mine,” he said.

“I will have to perform to stay in the team. It is no different to last year.”

While on a personal note Etxabeguren, a former youth team-mate of French Euro 2016 hero Antoine Griezmann, has his own ambitions, he also hopes the team performs better than last season’s eighth-placed finish.

He said: “We have a really strong squad this year but we know the league will be even tougher.

“We will have to fight and give 100% every game if we are to achieve the top six.

“I think we can do this.

“Maybe we have to be more consistent. That was our problem as a team last year.

“It has been a tough pre-season but they are all like this.

“It is all about getting things right for the season ahead.”

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