Ross County have stepped up their preparations for next season’s Premiership campaign after signing skipper Marcus Fraser on a new contract – with Partick Thistle midfielder Blair Spittal their next target.
Fraser has signed a 12-month extension to remain at Victoria Park, after turning down a pre-contract offer from recently-relegated Dundee earlier this season.
The 24-year-old joins Michael Gardyne and Declan McManus in committing his future to the Dingwall club, with Caley Thistle midfielder Joe Chalmers having also been added earlier this week.
Midfielder Ross Draper will become the next player to commit, with the Englishman expected to pen a two-year deal later this weekend.
County co-managers Steven Ferguson and Stuart Kettlewell are keen to further enhance their squad with the addition of former Dundee United winger Spittal, who has been offered a deal after his Jags contract expired.
Fraser’s decision to remain with County despite advances from elsewhere was warmly welcomed by Ferguson, who said: “It is great to have him tied up again.
“There was interest from Dundee when Jim McIntyre was there but he turned down the opportunity to sign a pre-contract and stated he wanted to play for Stuart and I.
“We feel he is a great captain for us and we’re delighted to have him in that role again for next season.”
Fraser was brought to County by previous Staggies boss McIntyre in January 2015, following his release by Celtic. The former Scotland under-21 international has made 167 appearances in four years with the club, and was handed the captaincy following the departure of Andrew Davies following the Highlanders’ relegation last year.
After leading County to the Championship title last term, Ferguson feels that decision has paid off, adding: “He took to the captaincy like a natural.
“Everyone knows Marcus’s strengths and what he puts into playing every week.
“A big part of his role last year was making sure the dressing room was how we wanted it and policing their domain, so to speak.
“Marcus had great support from the likes of Liam Fontaine, Ross Draper and Don Cowie, but Marcus was the captain and made sure everything was equally as successful off the pitch as on it.
“That’s a huge credit to him. Until there’s something that Stuart and I need to step in and sort, we’re more than happy for themselves.
“The captain has a huge part to play in setting the tone of the dressing room and we feel Marcus got that right this year. Everyone in the dressing room has to assist and play their part for it to work, but it was led by Marcus.
“He’s that point of contact who makes sure everyone is happy with what’s happening off the pitch and he’s the voice who comes to speak to us if anything needs discussed.
“He did that very well. He plays with his heart in his sleeve, he’s very vocal and he has Ross County’s best interests at heart.”