ALAN Dunne turned down the chance to leave Millwall on loan last week – and is glad that he did after forcing his way back into Steve Lomas' plans.
Dunne, who was banished to the bench after being sent off against Bournemouth in October, returned to the Lions defence in the 2-2 draw with Nottingham Forest on Tuesday.
The 31-year-old feared he was being frozen out but was given the nod ahead of Justin Hoyte at right back and now hopes to cement his place in the side.
He said: "You never know if you have played your last game or whether you are going to be moved on. You always have that fear and I have been close a couple of times, even under Kenny Jackett.
"The phone always rings so there was availability to go elsewhere. I guess it was a risk to reject that but as much as I want to play games, I love Millwall and I don't want to leave.
"I want to be part of the squad and playing games. Clubs were interested but the manager decided to keep me around and I'm happy with that decision.
"I feel my experience, what I bring to the team and knowledge of what the club and fans want can help us in big games.
"That was something we needed on Tuesday – someone to pull the lads together and help the team face up to it and show what Millwall is about, which I think we did.
"It's tough for the manager because he has to make changes when the team is struggling and it's not easy to keep everyone happy.
"If I had not got a chance then maybe come Christmas I would have looked for another option. But I have got back in and it's up to me to reward the manager's faith in me now."
Dunne makes no secret of the fact that he found being left out of the starting XI hard to stomach. "I didn't know where I was at – I was in limbo really – so it's been tough," he said.
"My head was boiling at times because I want to play football for the club that I love. I have always said to the manager that I'm the best right back he's got and I've been trying to prove that in training. I'm confident in my ability."
And Dunne has revealed that he signed a contract extension with the Lions shortly after the start of the season – so he feels it is doubly important that he is playing regularly in the long term, with his deal now running until 2015.
"We shook hands on an agreement in the summer and it was signed off a few months ago," he said. "The chairman offered me an extension at the end of last season and he wants me to retire at the club, which I hope to do.
"I'll have to work hard to prove the club made the right decision.
"They don't give out contracts willy nilly so I will have to work hard for my next one, and I know I will have to be doing well for the team on a regular basis."