Kieron Dyer believes he can help Middlesbrough’s promotion hunt and says he is not contemplating calling time on his playing career just yet.
The 34-year-old returned to the North-East last week, signing a shot-term deal at the Riverside Stadium six years after leaving Newcastle United, but his career has stalled.
After swapping St James’ for West Ham United, a series of injuries have seen the midfielder make a total of only 40 appearances.
Sustaining a broken foot three minutes into his QPR debut in August 2011 ruled him out for the season, while regular hamstring strains have seen him spend more time in rehab than on the pitch and Boro boss Tony Mowbray last week acknowledged that Dyer could have been forgiven for quitting by now.
Yet, after dropping back into the Championship, the player is adamant that he still has what it takes.
He said: “I could’ve packed in by now, but I don’t want to yet because every time I have played – even though I didn’t play much at QPR or West Ham – I think I was one of the better performers on the pitch.
“I was training every day with Premier League players and I was still one of the better players, that’s what keeps me in good stead. The day I quit is when I know I haven’t got it anymore.
“But I still feel as though I can do a job.”
Dyer made his Boro bow in Saturday’s 4-0 trouncing at Ipswich Town, his hometown team. An “embarrassing” defeat, admits the midfielder.
“People have said it’s a gamble, but there is no gamble because if I don’t play then it won’t cost Middlesbrough at all. But if I play well and stay fit then I think I can help them achieve what they want. It’s a great deal for both parties,” he said.
“I haven’t played much football for the past five years, so if you think of it like that I should still have the legs of a 29-year-old! Hopefully I’ll be in good stead for the season and full of energy.
“At QPR I was available for all but six or seven games this season, so I’ve been fit for the majority of the time. We found a training programme that worked for me and I’ve continued that here.
“The pleasing aspect on Saturday was that I played the 90 minutes and felt fresh. That wasn’t meant to be the case, I was only meant to be playing 60, but I felt fine and felt fine in training.
“Touch wood, I think I’m at the bottom of my problems now, especially my muscle problems. You can’t legislate for freak injuries like cruciates and broken legs, but on the muscle side of things I think I’ll be okay.”
During January, QPR boss Harry Redknapp released Dyer three days after he’d scored his first goal in almost six years, but says he has been fit for most of the campaign.
“Even though I haven’t played as much as I’d like, from a fitness point of view it’s been a lot better,” he said.
“I was available for all but six or seven games at QPR this season, and that was only because I’d played three games in a week when the physios had told me not to.
“I played against Reading in the League Cup, it was my third game in a week and it was too much. So I missed four or five games and then Harry came in.
“Harry was straight with me. They’re bottom of the league and because of my injury history, could he rely on me to be fit for the remainder of the season?
“It was a big if and he was promised six or seven players could come in, but had to get players off the wage bill.
“He was perfectly honest with and said ‘A fit Kieron Dyer I’d want straight away’, but that’s football, it’s all about opinions and I don’t have a bad word to say about him. He’s a great man, a great manager and hopefully he’ll keep them up.”
After suffering four successive defeats, Boro return to the Riverside on Saturday against Barnsley while Leeds United also visit the North-East on Tuesday.
“The attitude of the boys on Monday and Tuesday has been first class. That’s the kind of reaction you want after a heavy defeat,” added Dyer.
“We’ve got two games in front of our own fans and I fully expect to get six points.
“Hopefully I’ll get a few cheers when I play there because in the past I’ve been booed!
“I’m looking forward to my home debut. Three points and a good performance would be a perfect Saturday.”
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