SCOTT Dann believes that Blackburn Rovers’ Premier League nightmare has made him mentally tougher – after admitting he did not feel fit ‘at any stage’ of the last campaign.
Rovers’ big money centre back has made a strong start to the Championship campaign having disappointed for large spells in his first season at the club – as the club dropped out of the top tier.
Ahead of this afternoon’s clash with former club Birmingham City, Dann believes the best of him is yet to come, but admits he is finally feeling more like his old self. Dann missed the last four months of the 2010/11 season for Birmingham after undergoing hamstring surgery and, moving to Ewood for in the region of £6m that summer, he admits he struggled to recover.
He said: “I think from a personal point of view, last season was disappointing for me. I was on the back of a bad injury coming to a new club.
“I wasn’t really fit, I had not played for seven months when I signed here. It took a lot longer to get over the injury than I originally thought. It was disappointing, every time I seemed to get back fit, I had another niggle and it was a bit of a stop start season.
“On the whole I did not perform to the standards I set myself and I think looking back at the end of the season I knew this season, having a full pre-season, I was going to be back to full fitness and that is how I feel.
“I just didn’t feel fit at any stage last season. This year I feel a lot fitter, a lot stronger and a lot more myself.
“As a professional footballer when you get injured some people expect you to come back straight away, but until you have had a bad injury you don't realise how long it does take to get back.
“I still think I have got a lot more to show and improve and I will keep trying to get better and better.
“I would like to think last year has made me mentally stronger. I am the first person after a game to know if I have done well enough, I am a big critic to myself. Last season, more often than not, I was telling myself I should have done better.”
Rovers entertain Birmingham this afternoon looking for their first win under new boss Henning Berg as they look to build on their current sixth place position.
And Dann believes there is still a lot more to come after admitting they are yet to play well this season.
He said: “With everything that has been going with the manager leaving, the season has been a bit stop start and we were all waiting for something to happen.
“Now the new manager has come in, we need to get back to what we all do best and that is getting results on a Saturday and staying as high up the league as we can.
“We would have liked to have picked up a few more points but we haven't really played that well as a whole.
“We have not got any other thought in our minds than promotion.”
* Swindon-based company RFS are expected to become the new sponsors of Ewood Park’s Riverside Stand after holding talks with Rovers, it is understood. The club remain on the look-out for a deal for a shirt sponsor.