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American midfielder Dante Polvara aiming to make most of fresh start at Aberdeen

Dante Polvara in action against Peterhead
Dante Polvara in action against Peterhead

Dante Polvara hopes a new season brings a fresh start to his Aberdeen career.

The American midfielder’s move to Pittodrie in January hit a bump in the road before it had even began as he required minor surgery on a double hernia.

The procedure and subsequent recovery meant Stephen Glass, the man who brought him to Scotland, had departed with Jim Goodwin replacing him in the Dons dugout by the time the 22-year-old was available.

With Aberdeen struggling to a 10th place finish last term, Polvara is relishing a clean slate – both personally and for the Reds as a unit – in 2022/23.

He said: “This season it’s all about going out there and proving myself, showing what I’m capable of doing and becoming a regular.

“I certainly feel fresh

“We have some big voices in the locker room from some of the new guys, which is great – some wonderful personalities.

“I don’t think whatever happened last season is still in the back of anyone’s mind, I hope not at least, because you need a fresh start; a blank canvas.”

Polvara ready for fight for first team place

Helping haul Aberdeen back up to the mantle of challengers near the top of the table is Polvara and his team-mates’ goal.

But the young midfielder also reiterated his individual target of forcing his way into the starting XI – although he views it as unlikely he’ll play from the off in every game.

Polvara said: “The goal is to just become someone that’s considered for every single squad, if not starting a lot of games.

Aberdeen striker Christian Ramirez is congratulated by Dante Polvara
Aberdeen striker Christian Ramirez is congratulated by Dante Polvara following a goal at Peterhead last weekend.

“It’s not impossible, but it’s near-impossible to be starting every single match, but that’s an aim . You’ve got to aim for the impossible and if you just fall short, so be it.

“I’m just expecting to hopefully get more opportunities and keep pushing.

“I know that there’s so much to build on and what I’m capable of and what I can bring to this level — that’s what I’m looking forward to.”

American excited by Goodwin’s team ethos

Jonny Hayes, Marley Watkins and Dante Polvara during the club’s Spanish training camp. Photo by Ross Johnston/Newsline Media

Polvara believes his new manager is trying to build a culture and style of play which will ensure any player can step in and make a seamless contribution to the cause.

It is an approach he is relishing.

He said: “If you look at a lot of the top clubs, even the ones doing fantastically well, they have a whole lot of rotation.

“It’s important to rest your best players or bring them off the bench, and that’s what makes it really important to have other guys that can easily slide into a role and look as if nothing’s changed.

“I think that’s what the manager is aiming to do and that’s obviously something I want to be involved in.

Aberdeen manager Jim Goodwin.

“I want to always be considered for every matchday squad as that’s how we give ourselves the best chance of success.

“I know he’s pushing us everyday – you’ve seen from his comments he wants squad depth and especially for the young boys to be challenging the established players week-in, week-out.

“There’s some ways to go and a lot of things to improve on, but I’m just looking forward to everyday chipping away at that, and succeeding personally and as a team.”

Ramadani’s arrival adds to a competitive midfield

Aberdeen’s Ylber Ramadani made his long-awaited debut against Dumbarton.

The arrival of international Ylber Ramadani adds to the challenge facing Polvara, but he insists he is ready for the task.

Having started for the club’s first game of the season at Peterhead last weekend in the Premier Sports Cup, Polvara was on the bench for Wednesday’s 2-0 win against Dumbarton.

He said: “Ylber finally came in on Monday, which was exciting.

“Connor Barron had a great end of the season last year. We know Ross (McCrorie) is well established.

“There’s a good amount of quality there in midfield – that’s exciting, that’s what you want.

“I understand the other perspective of it – (it) would be easier to have a straight shot to starting where there’s not much competition, you’re the clear favourite, but at the same time you’re in a comfortable position and that’s when progress stops.

“So as much as progress may not be seen week in, week out, it’s every day on the training ground learning from some of these more experienced guys, trying to improve on my craft everyday.

“It’s a good environment to be in. We take pride in helping each other out.”

Award nomination caps fine final year in United States

Polvara arrived at Aberdeen with a big reputation following a standout campaign for Georgetown University.

His performances led to him winning the Hermann Trophy, which is awarded to the best college player in the United States.

He has also been nominated for an ESPY award for best men’s college athlete by ESPN in his homeland.

Polvara is proud, if a little surprised, to be named as an ESPYS contender – with some of the biggest names in sport up for gongs in other categories.

He said: “I thought it was really cool. I don’t expect to win it, because there’s a lot of favouritism and, to be fair, some of the other guys there are unbelievable athletes that will be in the NBA and NFL.

“But it’s still it’s very cool and it’s nice for my school as well to get the recognition.”