Cove Rangers mainstay Connor Scully reckons he is reaping the benefits from playing alongside Fraser Fyvie and Declan Glass.
Scully has stepped up to League 2 football this season for the first time, after spending the rest of his career with Cove in the Highland League.
However, the additions of Fyvie, who is playing part-time after a career with Aberdeen, Wigan Athletic, Hibernian and Dundee United, and Glass – on loan from Tannadice – have improved his game.
The tutelage of manager Paul Hartley, himself a former midfielder, has also had its rewards for Scully.
He said: “Playing with guys who are or have been playing full-time helps. Fraser has been at the highest level and Declan is playing really well just now.
“For guys like me, who have played in the Highland League all my life, to play with full-time players is going to help my game massively. Hopefully it helps me progress and makes me a better player.
“Since the gaffer came in, I’ve learned a few things as he used to play there at the top level. It’s good to get pointers from him.
“My role hasn’t changed that much. The gaffer and (assistant) Gordon Young don’t want me charging forward as much anymore. I’m there to protect the back four.”
Scully has played all 12 games for Cove in all competitions so far this season, playing behind Fyvie and Glass in the team’s midfield.
He has relished the step up in challenges from last season and Cove are yet to taste defeat as an SPFL side.
Scully added: “It’s a lot more commitment and the quality of players is much higher. That’s no disrespect to the Highland League but going up, you know every game is going to be a tough test. Some games in the Highland League you probably won before you got there.
“We’re looking to win every game. We’re still unbeaten but it’s still so early to be saying anything (about that). Pitches are going to be worse in winter and it’s not going to suit our style of play, so we will need to adapt.
“But with us being unbeaten, everyone will be wanting to get that first win against us.”
Cove were drawn against Auchinleck Talbot in the second round of the Scottish Cup on Sunday, a rematch from last season’s competition. They return to the Balmoral Stadium in three days’ time for the visit of Annan Athletic.
Scully said: “I’m looking forward to getting back home – we’ve been on the road for the last two weeks.
“We know Annan’s place in the table doesn’t really show what they’re capable of. Being at home is a good advantage but it’ll be a tough test, as it’s another team we haven’t played before.”