Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Densill Theobald is hoping to resuscitate his burgeoning football career at Falkirk this afternoon after a disorienting start to his employment with the Scottish Premier League (SPL) club.
Theobald, who joined Falkirk from T&T Pro League outfit Caledonia AIA Fire last month, is yet to feature in the SPL and has failed to make his club's 18-man squad in recent weeks.
The 23-year-old national player believes his form is returning, though, and is ready to give a good account of himself if called upon today at fellow SPL club, Aberdeen.
"I am feeling settled and my confidence is back up," Theobald told the Saturday Express. "If I am given an opportunity (today), I am confident I will be able to take it."
Falkirk manager John Hughes admitted he was unimpressed with Theobald's initial performances when he signed on in January, although he remains convinced of the player's quality.
"Densill is still settling into his digs and his surroundings but I want more from him as he has yet to play in the team," Hughes told Scotland's Daily Record. "I spoke with him about what we expect from him-it was only fair that I did that. He is a nice football player, fantastic at times with a great left and right foot, but I had to have a word with him.
"I told him what we want out of him and asked him to bring that into his training. It will increase his chance of getting into the team."
Hughes' recent sentiments are in stark contrast to his glowing praise of Theobald last September when the clever midfielder thrilled Falkirk while on trial. The Scottish manager suggested that Theobald, who signed a one-year endorsement contract with Puma UK last month, would stroll into his starting team.
Theobald has his own ideas of why it did not turn out that way.
The Scotland he visited last September, he explained, was alien to the Scotland he discovered on his return last month at the height of the winter.
"I was really struggling to find my feet at first," said Theobald. "The rain and windy conditions was so different to anything I ever played in and it was really tough for me. To make it worse, the team was going through a really bad period and it put me under pressure. I just wasn't able to deliver."
For people unaware of weather conditions outside the Caribbean, a particularly windy day in Britain is extreme enough to ground trains and reduce traffic to ten miles per hour. It can wreak havoc with a football.
On Theobald's arrival, Hughes quickly arranged a practice game against lower league club, Raith Rovers, and then turned up to see his recruit in a reserve fixture against Celtic. By the player's own admission, he fell short of his usual standards on each occasion and Hughes abandoned his hope of fast-tracking him into the first team.
"The first game (against Rovers) I played behind the strikers," said Theobald, "and, in the second game, I was a holding midfielder. But I just didn't deliver."
Things got worse for the player when he was omitted from national coach Leo Beenhakker's squad to face Iceland in an international friendly on February 28 in London.
To his credit, Theobald took the apparent demotion on the chin and willed himself to step up a gear rather than plummeting into depression.
"I wasn't really surprised (to be left out the national team) because I wasn't playing well over the last few weeks," he said, "and I wasn't playing any first team football."
Gradually, Theobald thinks his form has returned.
"For the last three or four days, I was buzzing in training," he said, "and the coach said, if I keep it up, a place in the first team would be just around the corner.
"I am getting accustomed to the Scottish weather and food and playing football at 100 miles per hour for 90 minutes."
Theobald and Hughes have even starting singing from the same hymn book.
"(Hughes) wants me to work harder to recover the ball when we don't have it," said Theobald. "That is not really how we are accustomed to playing in Trinidad but I am working hard to give him what he demands. The coach said that I have been fantastic in training over the past week and he wants to see more of it and he wants to know that I can take those performances into games with me.
"I don't expect to walk into the starting team. I expect to work my way in and then keep my place."
Hughes has been dangling the right carrot, too.
"(Theobald) is on the fringes and I'm asking him to make sure he gets on the bench, then into the first team," said Hughes. "He needs to be playing because he could have a very big summer ahead of him."
Theobald is desperate to make Beenhakker's 23-man squad for the June-July 2006 World Cup in Germany alongside his club teammate and Trinidad and Tobago icon, Russell Latapy.
He praised Latapy for his support over the past two months and, in particular, for his skill with the barbeque grill.
Theobald is ready to show his own skills on the football field.
"I feel I can force my way into the Falkirk squad with the form I am in right now," said Theobald. "If I can do that, I believe I would be up for (World Cup) selection."
He might get his first chance from 3 p.m. (UK time) today in Aberdeen.