NOEL HUNT acknowledges that the ‘jury is out’ with many supporters regarding his Leeds United career so far – and admits he needs to start winning them over fast.
The 31-year-old endured the toughest of 2013-14 seasons, which he has labelled a nightmare and the Irishman is desperate to start afresh and hit the ground running in the new campaign.
Hunt is in Italy with United’s first-team squad for a two-week long training camp in the Val Gardena region of northern Italy and is eager to impress head coach Dave Hockaday and prove he has a future at the club.
Hunt, who has failed to find the net so far in his Leeds career, told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “I know with a lot of the fans the jury is out, but that’s fine.
“I have never shirked anything and I am not that kind of guy. If someone puts a challenge in front of me, I’ll try and beat it.
“I know what I can do. In the last ten years, I have probably had one-and-a-half bad seasons. I just want to get my head down and get in the team with the team doing well and make sure I am right and ready to go.”
Hunt feels that he paid the price for playing on with a hamstring injury at the start of last term, which bedevilled his progress following a disrupted pre-season.
But with a full pre-season’s work behind him, he is hoping to make an impact second time around under Hockaday.
Hunt added: “I started the season with a silly injury I shouldn’t have played with really and continued to and ended up coming out for months because of it through no fault but my own. I was too stubborn to admit it.
“I kept it quiet and then had a scan and it was a lot worse than what I thought it was.
“A lot of things went on last year. I got married and came back eight days later than the boys.
“So I was already behind and trying to push myself to get forward and it just didn’t happen.
“It was one of those nightmare seasons. But this is a new chapter and I am looking forward to it.
“This year I have had a decent two or three weeks before the season and have come back nice and fit. I know with this coach, we will be fit, strong and resilient and it’s a great mentality to have.
“Hard work breeds success and he’s been fantastic in his mentality and the way he talks, which has been really positive. It looks as if we are going to be a really hard-working team.
“We’ve got to look to the future and really try and do something because last year, if I am being honest, we did nothing.
“Only two or three players came out with pass marks and it’s up to us to put the shovel into the ground and get some work done.”
While Hunt is keen to embrace a fresh start at Leeds, he admits he felt for Brian McDermott when he left the club earlier this summer after a fraught end to his time with United.
Hunt, who played for McDermott at Reading and considers him a friend, said: “I feel for Brian.
“He’s had a hard month and his mum has just passed away about a week or two ago and he was down by her bedside for the last five or six weeks.
“He’s a great man and one of the most honest I have ever known and I will be grateful for him for many years to come. He’s a friend of mine as well and we’ve had a long time together.
“When something goes wrong, everything kind of goes wrong at the same time.”