Ross County midfielder Harry Paton has cited former Staggies favourite Don Cowie as his ideal role model.
Canadian player Paton joined County in the summer after leaving Hearts, where Cowie, 35, remains an influential part of Craig Levein’s squad.
During their time together at Tynecastle, Paton says he drew inspiration from working with Cowie, who grew up in Strathpeffer and made 191 appearances for County before leaving for rivals Caley Thistle in 2007.
Cowie went on to spend seven years in England with Watford, Cardiff City and Wigan Athletic, during which time he won 10 Scotland caps.
Paton said: “Don Cowie was a big influence on me. Up at the training centre, he’d give me plenty of pointers. He’s a great guy. We talked about Ross County before coming here and he put in a mention for me.
“Don is the most professional player I’ve encountered in terms of how he lives his life. Seeing him in training is something to behold. There is never any letting up or being lazy.
“He always gives 100% and it is good to watch that kind of player in action and learn from them. It encourages you to up your own training levels.”
Paton reflects on his spell at Hearts with disappointment at not being handed a first-team opportunity but is out to make his mark in the Championship with the Staggies after spending last season on loan with League 2 side Stenhousemuir.
The 20-year-old was part of County’s squad that travelled to Holland for last week’s training camp and could feature in tonight’s friendly against Clach at Grant Street Park (7.30pm).
Paton added: “It did make it difficult having a good number of young players coming through at Hearts.
“It was a bit unlucky on my part – I was on loan and they were getting the chance to play.
“They did get in and they did really well – I’m pleased for them. A lot of it is timing and luck and I didn’t really get much chance and never made my debut.
“I just wish I’d got the chance to come in and show what I can do. I’m a lot happier here, already, a few weeks in with the whole atmosphere of the place, the guys here and what we are trying to achieve.”