BY ALAN TEMPLE – Capital City Press
Dumbarton defender Stevie Saunders insists his injury-prone reputation is unfair after revealing he has been fighting fit for over a year.
The Scotland internationalist endured a hellish three years between August 2011 and April 2014, playing just 16 matches as he battled achilles, knee and ankle complaints.
He did manage to break into the Ross County side last season, making seven appearances before being “bombed out” of the team by Jim McIntyre and leaving the club in the close season.
Saunders, who is still only 24, reckons many people assumed he had been crocked again because of his reputation – and he is determined to enjoy an uninterrupted season of first-team football at Dumbarton.
The former Motherwell starlet told Capital City Press: “I’ve been fully fit for over a year now, I played a few matches just before Christmas time last year at County but the manager brought in his own players in January and bombed me out.
“I think your previous history can go against you. When I dropped out of the team people probably thought ‘he’s injured again!’
“That’s not the case. I was basically playing every week for the development squad. Although that’s not the same as first-team football, I was still fit and ready to play.
“I’m feeling good and working under a manager who is giving me opportunities. The biggest part of this season is getting games under my belt after not playing much in the last three years.”
Despite retaining full-time ambitions, Saunders – tipped for the top when he made his international debut against the Faroe Islands in November 2010 – is adamant the Championship provides a testing platform to kick-start his career.
Ahead of today’s clash against Falkirk, he added: “It might be part-time, but it is still the second tier of Scottish football – with some massive clubs in the division.
“St Mirren, Hibs and Rangers are big teams in Scottish football, then you have quality sides like Falkirk and Raith Rovers. These are all good teams and this is a good standard to play at.”