sport

Irvine never tempted to leave

Dundee captain Gary Irvine has revealed his feelings for the Dens Park club meant a summer switch to Ross County was never an option.

Irvine, who had a five-month loan spell in Dingwall while a Celtic player in 2006, was targeted by County manager Derek Adams in the summer before Dundee were promoted to the Scottish Premier League following the financial collapse of Rangers.

But he remained committed to Dundee and will line up against County at the Global Energy Stadium on Saturday as Dundee look to cut their six-point deficit at the foot of the table.

"I heard of interest there and they were in contact with my agent," Irvine said.

"In my mind it was always hard to leave here. I was fortunate to pick up a lot of awards at the end of last season, and I was grateful for that.

"It's a hard thing to do, to get fans on your side and appreciate you as a player. That was a massive factor.

"The times I have had here, going through the unbelievable season of administration and having that love for the club is brilliant, and that was always in my head."

Dundee initially took longer to adjust to the SPL than County, unsurprisingly given the lack of

preparation time, but Irvine praised County for making their mark with the bulk of the squad that won the Irn-Bru First Division championship.

"They are well organised and a tight unit," the former St Johnstone player said.

"There have not been many changes for a couple of seasons now.

"The standard when they came into this league was phenomenal.

"They have had a few results gone against them, but they make it difficult for teams going up there.

"They knew what they were going into and what they were preparing for and obviously for us everything changed with two weeks to go. So I suppose Ross County had a bit more preparation.

"But if you look at it, there have not been many changes.

"It was the same team that played last year so it's full credit to them the way they started the season."

Dundee are looking to bounce back from their 3-0 derby defeat by Dundee United but had previously lost just once in five games.

"It's a hard one, it constantly plays on your mind," Irvine said. "But you come back into training and straight away we need to gear towards Saturday.

"Outwith last Sunday we were on a really good run, four or five weeks the confidence was high and we were grinding out results.

"We have done really well to pull ourselves back into it and get close to the teams above. It's up to us to get back to winning ways and get even closer."