It’s been a busy summer for midfielder Josh Dixon contract wise with an activated clause quickly turning into a new two-year deal, which will keep him with his hometown club for at least another two seasons.
A player highly thought of at Brunton Park, he confirmed this week that he’s now ready to use the next stage of his career to make his mark in what is an already competitive squad.
Speaking first about the new deal, he said: “The clause was announced first and obviously I was buzzing about that, because it was good just to be here for another year.
“I then sat down with David Holdsworth and we’ve agreed another two years, so I’m delighted that I’m going to be here through to 2023.
“It means a lot that it’s happened. It shows that the men at the top have got faith in me to produce for this football club. I’m ready to do that, and I’ve said before that I think this season I was unlucky with the Covid stuff.
“Obviously with my two big injuries I need game time, but with the way the season went I was in and out of the squad and I was trying my hardest to get up to full fitness. There were little niggles and injuries along the way, but I’m feeling much fitter now and I just can’t wait for this new season to start.”
On how it felt when the new deal was presented, he told us: “Because of how hard it’s been for me it’s just a sense of relief.
“I know I’ve got time now, but it’s not just to sit back, it’s about getting into the team. Once I’ve got that place I’m not going to give it up to anyone.
“A lot of people in my situation might have had it worse in terms of not being able to find the motivation to keep going through something like what I had, but I’ve had good people and my family who have helped me with that.
“That’s why I’m so happy about the deal. I’ve got time to pay everybody back for what they’ve done for me. All through the last few years it’s been nice to know that the contracts were there because it’s meant I’ve been able to concentrate on the work that needs to be done.
“I’ve had coaches who understand what type of player I am, and I know how they want me to play in different positions and situations. I’m just itching to put it all into practice.
“With the gaffer, he’s said that with all of my technical ability he believes in me, but he’s clear that I need to keep working on the areas where I have to better. That’s things like pressing, defending and turning the ball over if we lose it.
“Working with him since he came in has improved that side of my game and I’m just ready to prove to him that he can give me a chance.
“Everyone at the club has been great with me. The gaffer, Gav [Skelton] and David Holdsworth have really backed me because they know what I can do. I just can’t wait to repay them all for that because, being honest, there was a time where I didn’t know what was going to happen before they gave me the new contract.”
And the help he’s received hasn’t just come from the coaching side of the football department.
“All of the players have been brilliant,” he revealed. “The experienced lads have been superb. Dean Furman was always helping me, Callum Guy was brilliant as well.
“Joe Riley was really good because he’s been through similar things to me and he had some excellent advice. All of them have helped me at some point.
“It’s a good dressing room and we’ve all gelled together really quickly, there have been no fall-outs or anything like that this year, it’s like a family tight-knit group in many ways. I honestly just can’t wait for next season.
“I’ve looked at people like Jon Mellish, he had an unbelievable season. The way he finishes is something I can do as well. He gets to the edge of the box late, or into the area at the right time, and he hits the target. I think I can produce the same, and hopefully I’ll get the chance to do that.”
Having been with the club since the age of nine, he’s also had the boost of seeing players he grew up with break through and lay down their markers, with some moving onwards to Premier League clubs.
“With the likes of Jarrad [Branthwaite], Liam [McCarron] and Josh [Galloway] I’ve known them since I first came in, so to see them make appearances and do what they’ve been doing has been really good to watch,” he said. “I’ve just been buzzing for them really. It was a little bit frustrating to be on the sidelines, but I never stopped believing and hopefully this season I can get a real run of games under my belt and show what I can do.
“The thing is with all of the young players is that we push each other on. We’ve obviously trained together for years so we know how each other play. We all want success for ourselves, but we’re also pleased when others are doing well.
“None of us were under any illusion that stepping up from under-18 football would be easy. First team football is much more physical and the tempo is much quicker.
“You can see that in training, passes are zipped in so your first touch has got to be good and you’ve got to be ready at all times. I’ve been doing that for a couple of years so I feel much more comfortable now.”
And, now of course, it’s a case of ticking down the days until pre-season comes around once more.
“I think you have to rest because it’s been a long season for everyone, but I’ll make sure I have a good close-season and come in fit and fighting,” he told us. “The friendlies are the next aim, and it will mean a lot to play at Brunton Park in front of the fans.
“I remember that Hibs game in pre-season, it feels like ages ago, but I got a bit of a taste of it then. When the fans are in it makes you more up for the occasion because you want to do really well.
“I think the fans bring you up another level, and I can’t wait for them all to be back in and to be playing in front of them.”