Rothes defender Paul Macleod is looking forward to the new season after missing several months of last term with a viral problem which affected his heart.
The 30-year-old is in his third season with the Speysiders having previously spent nine years at Nairn County.
After being sidelined for much of last season, Macleod is determined to play his part during the 2019-20 season.
Macleod said: “I missed quite a bit of last season as the viral infection I had put too much pressure on my heart, but it’s all good now.
“Since Christmas I’ve been fine but I’ve been careful in the pre-season build-up not to overdo it especially in the heat.
“We’ve recently signed a couple of full-time footballers, Ryan McRitchie and Ben Johnstone, from Inverness Caley Thistle and Ross County respectively. We also brought back winger Ali Sutherland, who was on loan last season from Elgin City. They’ve all been very impressive in the pre-season build-up.
“Ryan and Ben are both centre halves, playing in the same position as myself and Bruce Milne, but I believe that competition is a great thing.
“We need healthy competition in our squad, as last year we were definitely too threadbare towards the end of the season.
“At that stage there was no competition at all and we were just trying to make up numbers with a squad of 14 to 16 boys.”
Macleod firmly believes Rothes can improve on their 10th place finish last term. They start the season at Turriff United on Saturday.
The defender said: “I’m pretty sure we can improve on last season.
“Last term we lost an awful lot of games by the odd goal.
“We conceded a few very late goals, either in the last minute or deep into injury time, especially before Christmas time so hopefully we can avoid doing the same this year.”
Rothes lost only one of their closing eight league matches last season and Macleod hopes to continue that form at the start of the new campaign.
He said: “Towards the end we went on quite a good run and we managed to climb a couple of places up the table.
“It was encouraging. Hopefully we can kick on after that impressive end to last season.
“I would like to think that we could start this year better than we did last time around.
“If we manage to do that I am confident we can move into the top eight.
“I’m really enjoying my football at Rothes.
“People are working incredibly hard behind the scenes at Rothes to make life even better for the players
“And it’s greatly appreciated.
“The Mackessack Park pitch was also in much better condition than in previous years last term and it will be in even better condition this time around.”
- Ground: Mackessack Park
- Colours Tangerine
- Honours: Highland League champions 1958-59; North of Scotland Cup 1958-59, 1978-79
- Manager: Steven MacDonald
- Season 18-19: Finished 10th
After successive 10th place finishes, Rothes manager Steven MacDonald is determined to finish in the top half of the Highland League table.
The former Elgin City, Clachnacuddin and Forres Mechanics centre half said: “We are looking to try and make progress after being 10th in the table on each of the last two seasons.
“Last year we stabilised so this year we are looking to progress and with the arrival of quality young defenders such as Ryan McRitchie from Caley Thistle and Ben Johnstone, who was on Ross County’s books for eight years.
“Everyone wants to do better but we need to get the process right first.”
MacDonald, whose side start the season against Turriff United, added: “Many people, last year, expected us to finish higher than the 10th place we finished the year before.
“But we had quite a few problems along the way and of course every other team was equally ambitious to do well.
“The main thing for us just now is to get the process right in terms of producing the type of football we want to play and be organised.
“If we can do that I think we can progress this term.”