Ross County manager Owen Coyle has urged midfielder Tony Dingwall to make the most of his fresh opportunity with the Staggies.
Dingwall is stepping up his return from a cruciate ligament injury which he suffered in training in March, with the 23-year-old returning by playing 70 minutes in County’s 4-3 Development League victory against Hearts on Wednesday.
The wide player will also feature in Wednesday’s charity fundraising Highland derby friendly against Caley Thistle at Victoria Park, which was arranged yesterday.
Dingwall endured a frustrating campaign last year, starting only four games prior to his injury, but was handed a contract extension during his rehabilitation, which keeps him at Victoria Park until January.
Coyle, who replaced the sacked Jim McIntyre in September, has been impressed with the wide player’s impact so far, but says it is down to Dingwall to prolong his future with his home-town club.
Coyle said: “He was only supposed to play 60 minutes but I left him on for 70 because I was enjoying watching him play. He’s a very talented player and I’ve said to them all – regardless of who they are – it’s a clean slate. I’m there to be impressed.
“Tony trained really well coming back from the injury he had and he looks a talented lad.
“Ultimately, it’s similar to young Davis Keillor-Dunn. The biggest single factor in development is the player himself.
“We can try and impart a bit of knowledge, wisdom or experience, but ultimately when they cross the white line they are the ones who have to deliver.
“If they do, they are very much in the plans, and if they don’t they will kind of fall by the wayside. The onus is on them to push themselves on.
“There’s no doubt he has natural ability – he has the gift. It would be a real shame if he doesn’t maximise that gift and opportunity.”
Coyle is hopeful skipper Andrew Davies will return for tomorrow’s Premiership home match against Motherwell, with the veteran English defender missing last Saturday’s 2-1 defeat by Aberdeen after suffering neck spasms on the morning of the Pittodrie encounter.
Coyle added: “Andrew has trained all this week, so fingers crossed. He’s a hugely influential player for us. It would be nice for him to come back into the fold.”