Gary McGowan is optimistic about the season ahead after returning for a fifth spell with Huntly.
The attacker has rejoined the Christie Park club on loan from Junior side Banks o’ Dee for the 2020-21 campaign.
The Black and Golds kick off the new season against Rothes at Mackessack Park on Saturday in what will be new manager Allan Hale’s first competitive match in charge.
McGowan, 35, said: “I haven’t worked with Allan Hale before now, but I’ve always heard very positive things about him and always heard that he’s extremely professional in what he does.
“That’s what everyone wants and you want to be managed by someone who puts in a lot of work and detail in trying to make players and the team better.
“We’ve made some good additions like Cammy Bowden, who has been a cracking centre-half for a number of years, and a few other good signings.
“I played last weekend in a friendly and there are a lot of familiar faces and also some new players so it’s exciting.
“I think any player or manager would say progression is everything really. This season will be slightly different because it’s shorter, but you want to better what you’ve done before.
“If you go on a little run there’s no reason why we can’t finish in the top half and challenge in the cups, so I think that will be the aim.”
McGowan joined Banks o’ Dee in the summer after leaving Formartine United.
He went to the Juniors hoping to challenge for a league title. However, the North Region Juniors have started with League Cup groups before smaller regionalised leagues get under way in the new year.
As a result of the altered format, McGowan came to an agreement with Banks o’ Dee to return to the Highland League on loan this term.
The former Peterhead, Deveronvale and Turriff United player added: “I want to thank Banks o’ Dee for allowing this loan move to happen.
“I was looking to challenge for a league in the latter stages of my career and I felt at Banks o’ Dee I could that.
“But, because of the Covid situation, the Juniors aren’t having a normal league format this season.
“It’s not really what I signed up for and Jamie Watt (Dee co-manager) and the club have been brilliant with me and were fine with me being made available for loan to go back to the Highland League.
“I signed a two-year deal with Banks o’ Dee and hopefully come next summer everything will be back to normal and I’ll return there and continue with what I’d hoped to do, which is to try to win the league.”
McGowan made his Huntly debut in season 2002-03 during a loan spell from Inverness Caley Thistle.
He believes returning for a fifth stint at Christie Park shows the affinity he has for the Black and Golds.
He said: “The fact I’ve been back to Huntly so many times speaks volumes about how much I love the club and also how Huntly respects me as a player and a person.
“Any time I’ve left it’s never been on bad terms, it’s never been anything other than a footballing move.
“My family is from Huntly and I was a ballboy for Huntly when I was a kid and I’ve gone right through and made a lot of appearances for the club now.”