New Nairn County signing Tom MacLennan hopes dropping down to the Highland League can revitalise his career after an injury-hit 12 months.
MacLennan was released by Ross County in January to allow him to find regular game time following his comeback from a cruciate ligament injury.
The 21-year-old missed out on the Staggies’ Development League title win as he was on the treatment table and, after Jim McIntyre left County in September, he found it hard to impress replacement Owen Coyle.
MacLennan said: “It’s been a difficult year. Being out for that long gives you a different perspective on the game. The change of manager and lack of game-time just didn’t work out. The way they looked after me was first-class but I needed to play.
“I was working with one of the best physios in Scotland in Kevin Bain but it was difficult watching the other guys from the physio room. I managed to play half the season but that also made it difficult.
“Hopefully I get my fitness up, train as much as I can and get some games. That’s what I need for the rest of this season and next.”
An emergency loan at Rothes in November gave him the appetite for Highland League football but a brief trial with Clach after his release from County did not work out. He penned an 18-month deal at Station Park last week and marked his debut against Fort William on Wednesday with a goal.
The 21-year-old went down injured just weeks before County midfielder Tony Dingwall, who sustained the same injury in March last year, and the two became close through their rehab periods.
MacLennan added: “It was good to have someone to go through it with. We were able to put each other’s mind at ease.”
He consulted ex-Staggie youngster Cohen Ramsay, now at Nairn, before moving to Station Park. While he wants to play at the highest level he can, MacLennan is in no hurry.
He said: “I need to get back fit and healthy and help Nairn do well. I’m hoping to get as much game-time as possible and go from there.”