Ross County manager Jim McIntyre says this season is make or break time for midfielder Tony Dingwall as he approaches the final months of his Staggies contract.
Dingwall made a strong impression after breaking into the County side shortly after McIntyre’s arrival at Victoria Park in September 2014, but struggled to carry his momentum into last season, making just 15 appearances in a stop-start campaign.
The 22-year-old made his first league appearance of the season as a substitute in Saturday’s 2-0 win against Kilmarnock, and with his contract up at the end of the season McIntyre says Dingwall must prove he is worthy of a future with his hometown club.
McIntyre said: “Tony has had several opportunities and really needs to make his mark. He’s in the last year of his contract and, for me, he needs to do more.
“He knows that, but he’s shown a fantastic attitude in training and is really trying to take on board what that position entails.
“It is about being dynamic, about defending when we’ve not got the ball, but most importantly it is your responsibility to create when we have it
“A lot of people think being brave is putting your foot in. For me, being brave is getting yourself on the ball and wanting the ball in tight situations – then trying to make something happen.
“Tony doesn’t have to look any further than Michael Gardyne who has arguably been our most-consistent wide player since we came here.
“It’s the same for Jonathan Franks. He did well on Saturday and grew and grew into the game, but they need to produce on a more regular level if they want to stay in the team.
“That has to be in every training session, but particularly when they get the chance in games.”
Another youngster who looks set to be handed his chance is 18-year-old forward Greg Morrison, who also came off the bench in the latter stages of the victory against Killie.
McIntyre has been impressed with the Aberdeen-born player’s progress, and hinted further opportunities could come his way following Brian Graham’s departure to Championship side Hibernian at the weekend.
McIntyre added: “It’s a great opportunity for Greg. Our head of youth development, Steven Ferguson spotted him as a 14-year-old and brought him in. He deserves great credit for that. Stuart Kettlewell, especially in the last year or so, has also worked incredibly hard with him.
“He’s raw, but he has brute strength – he is a very powerful boy. I can only see him getting better and better.
“The chance is going to be there for him. He will be dipped in and out when we feel it is the right time, but he is training with the first team every day now, so he will learn and improve.”