Ross County winger Michael Gardyne is ready to make his mark on the pitch after taking his place among the crowd during the longest injury lay-off of his career.
Gardyne returned following more than two months out with a broken foot when he made a substitute in Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Queen of the South, with the 32-year-old in contention for this weekend’s top of the table encounter against Ayr United at Somerset Park.
During Gardyne’s absence, the former Dundee United and Kilmarnock player joined in among the Staggies supporters to watch some of his side’s games, and although he enjoyed the experience the winger is now ready to get back to contributing on the field for the Staggies.
Gardyne said: “It’s not nice, it’s just that way you feel you can’t help your team-mates.
“To be fair we have won a good few of the games. I remember watching the Morton game at home when we won 5-0 – that was great to watch.
“For other games, like Caley Thistle away, I went and sat with the fans. You are just kicking every ball, you just want your team mates to win and do well.
“Now I’m back I’m hoping to get involved and help my team-mates.
“It’s definitely different. Some of the shouts from fans are brilliant as well – I was joining in.
“It’s nice to have that rapport with the fans as well, but nothing beats being out there and being out on the pitch.”
Gardyne’s spell on the sidelines was the longest of his career thus far, with the Dundee-born player adding: “I have never been out for any longer than five or six weeks. I have had a hamstring injury and I broke a rib at Celtic Park, but it was always just a few weeks.
“I have had a good career in an injury sense – I’m 32 now and that’s my first break. For the broken rib there wasn’t even an operation, just a healing process.
“This has been the first operation in my whole career. I have been quite lucky so hopefully I can last the next few years.”
Gardyne is relishing this weekend’s top of the table encounter against the Honest Men, who are a point clear of County at the Championship summit.
He added: “I think they kind of went under the radar at the start of the season, when everyone was talking about Dundee United, Ross County and Partick Thistle.
“I think they were probably quite happy with that.
“This is the time now, in December and January, where it does become a title race.
“Ayr have been flying, they are up there on merit. In the last couple of months I have not been surprised they have kept it going.”