Former Aberdeen and Caley Thistle forward Marley Watkins insists he has lost none of his hunger as he looks for his next move.
Watkins was released by Bristol City this week after three years at Ashton Gate. He spent the first half of the season on loan at Aberdeen before a hamstring injury, sustained in the Scottish Cup semi-final against Celtic, curtailed his time in the north-east.
He returned to the English Championship club for the second half of the campaign, but made just two substitute appearances for the Robins.
Watkins forged an impressive early-season partnership with fellow Wales international Ryan Hedges and Scott Wright at Aberdeen and finished his spell with two goals in 12 appearances.
Game-time is the simple need for Watkins now, as he considers his next move.
“I just want to play at as high a level as possible,” said Watkins. “I will be speaking to my agent to see what options I have got, but I’m excited to be part of something.
“For me it’s about playing regularly, working with good people and being in a winning environment.
“When you’re injured and not playing you are a bit less happy, but I have grown from it. I’m just gutted I couldn’t contribute (at Bristol), but this is football. I haven’t lost my hunger.”
The hamstring injury sidelined him for four months before he was able to make a comeback, which hampered his availability for Nigel Pearson’s side.
‘Unfortunate’ collision led to injury which ended loan at Dons
He did enjoy his time in the north-east though, praising manager Derek McInnes and revealing his disappointment at not being able to play in front of a full house at Pittodrie.
There is also regret about the injury which he picked up in the semi-final.
“I came off the week before because the semi-final was coming up,” said Watkins. “I had a scan, which came back fine, but it felt weird.
“Although the scan was clear, I was struggling with it and I wasn’t myself in that game. But when you’re working for a guy like Derek McInnes, you want to go out and risk it for him. It was unfortunate I got a knock in the back and it made me stretch it (hamstring) sharply.
“It was refreshing being at Aberdeen. It’s a shame I couldn’t play in front of fans as they are really special.
“Scott (Wright) and Ryan (Hedges) are top players who want to play football the right way. We linked up well and the fans really enjoyed the style we were playing.
“It’s a shame we got injured and split up, as we’d started really well.”
Reds return on the agenda?
Some Dons fans have been on social media clamouring for his return, but Watkins has stressed he does not know what the future holds.
“They have got a new manager up there now,” added Watkins. “It’s a great club and I really enjoyed my time up there.
“I’m feeling good now and back to full fitness. It’s hard when you get injured – you realise you much you miss football.”
Bond with Inverness Scottish Cup heroes
Watkins has two caps for the Welsh national team and has also played for Norwich City – where he featured alongside Dons loan star James Maddison – and Barnsley.
He first came to the attention of the Scottish football public during a two-year stay with Caley Thistle. The 30-year-old was instrumental in their Scottish Cup success, scoring the opening goal against Falkirk in the 2015 final, and helping them finish third in the Scottish Premiership.
Scotland retains a special place in his heart, after what he has achieved and how it has helped his career.
Watkins added: “While we don’t speak all the time, we (the Inverness players from 2015) have got that bond forever. I would do anything for anyone of them, no matter how long it’s been.
“It’s more difficult when everyone has families. That’s their main focus and so it should be.”