Coll Donaldson feels a positive first season in a Caley Thistle shirt can start to alter perceptions of him as a player.
The centre-back took heavy criticism for his performances at Dundee United but he was a changed man in the Highlands, being voted the club’s young player of the year.
He was named man of the match in Inverness’ 1-0 Irn-Bru Cup final win against Dumbarton and signed a contract extension to 2020, after initially only joining for six months.
Donaldson has benefited from the support of manager John Robertson and feels public opinion of him may start to change.
He said: “I think it’s a long process. There was a lot of bad press and I didn’t really perform (at United), so it was probably deserved.
“Last season was good for myself and my confidence is high. It was a fresh start coming here – staying and living here has been positive for me, not just the football side of things.
“The manager isn’t someone who looks at previous perceptions. He’s giving me a chance and, hopefully, I can repay him.
“I would love to get back to the Premiership with Inverness. We’ve still got the nucleus of a good team and we’ve got a good chance of going up. I hope that ends up with us in the Premiership next year.”
He formed a strong partnership with Brad McKay at the heart of the defence, in a partnership that is likely to underpin Caley Thistle’s starting line-up next season.
In a competitive Championship at least six teams could look at themselves as being promotion contenders.
However, one of the shining examples from this season has been Livingston, who confounded expectations of a survival fight to seal back-to-back promotions, returning to the top flight for the first time in 12 years.
Donaldson started his professional career at Livi, playing for them between 2011 and 2014, and said they were the most difficult opposition Caley Jags faced last season.
He said: “We’ll probably look to do it a different way to Livingston but no one would have expected it at the start of the season.
“Playing against them were the toughest four games of last season and they ask you a lot of different questions.
“Both teams in the play-offs weren’t able to answer them and they’ve deservedly gone through.
“They’ve got a style of play that they’ve carried on from League 1. They haven’t added a lot of players – Lee Miller joining them in January was a big boost for them.
“They had 11 players on the pitch every Saturday who know what is asked of them. Keaghan is the only one there from when I was there and it was great to see him score.
“I heard he’s only scored against Partick Thistle this season. He’s a good lad and I’m delighted for him to be playing in the Premiership next season.
“I know the manager feels we can win the league – he’s not looking at anything else.
“Ross County will be looking at getting straight back up, United will be wanting to go up and Thistle, too.
“There are teams we need to be better than but the most important thing is finding consistency.”