Ross County co-manager Steven Ferguson says Declan McManus’ determination to force his way into the Staggies side convinced him to hand the striker a new one-year deal.
McManus yesterday agreed a 12-month extension to his contract with the newly-promoted Premiership side, which will see him remain at Victoria Park until 2020.
Although McManus was limited to just 12 league starts during County’s Championship-winning campaign after making the move from Dunfermline last summer, Ferguson says the 24-year-old has shown an eagerness to make one of the Dingwall club’s attacking spots his own.
Ferguson said: “He’s still hungry. He started last season really well, but probably got overtaken by other strikers playing and starting games.
“Declan was involved in a lot of games last year, although he didn’t start as many games as he would have liked.
“Sometimes that was out of Declan’s hands, and sometimes you lose that rhythm when you are stop-start.
“That comes down to how Billy Mckay and Ross Stewart were for a large chunk of the season, and the way Brian Graham finished at the end of the season meant he had that position nailed down.
“Declan can play through the middle or around the sides, so Stuart Kettlewell and I feel it gives us that option and energy in both positions. He has definitely got something to offer the group.
“We feel he will be a vital member of the group moving forward.”
McManus will be keen to make the most of his second opportunity in the Premiership, having made just 13 substitute appearances for Aberdeen prior to joining English side Fleetwood Town in 2015.
Ferguson hopes remaining in familiar surroundings can bring the best out of the Glasgow-born forward, adding: “He had to be really patient, which he was, and wait for opportunities.
“There were a couple of games he did start which he did really well in, such as Motherwell in the cup where he assisted Brian’s two goals. We felt he was really influential in the last Caley Thistle game as well, where we beat them 2-1.
“He has had the taste of the top flight with Aberdeen, before he had his move down south. For a young guy, Declan has squeezed a lot in. He’s probably looking for that little bit of consistency in the club he’s with.
“He’s a great lad. He has moved his family up into the area and bought into what Stuart and I are trying to do here. He will need to be patient and on top of his game, which goes the same with everybody else.”