Ross Laidlaw admits the gloves are off in the fight to become Ross County’s first choice Premiership goalkeeper.
The former Hibernian shotstopper will slug it out with highly-rated Chelsea youngster Nathan Baxter in a straight scrap for the number one jersey.
With past mainstay Scott Fox leaving under freedom of contract and understudy Ross Munro loaned to Raith Rovers, it is all change in the Dingwall goalkeeping department.
But Laidlaw, who left Easter Road in the summer after three injury-hit years, is determined his days on the substitute’s bench are numbered. Baxter – Yeovil Town’s player of the year while on loan last season – may have something to say about that.
The 20-year-old is highly-rated within the Stamford Bridge set up and viewed as a potential future England keeper.
County’s management team have made it clear it will be a straight square go for the jersey, beginning with tomorrow’s pre-season friendlies at Nairn County and Forres Mechanics.
Laidlaw, who barely featured while on loan at Dundee United from January, said: “I think it’s a good scenario.
“There’s no point going into the season thinking you’re going to be playing every week or that you’re mostly going to be on the bench.
“It makes sure you train at the highest level, both pushing each other on every single day. You have to play well to stay in the side.
“The managers want two number ones here, rather than a one and a two.
“At Hibs, I probably was more regarded as a number two, but I’m hoping I can come here and play a lot of football.
“I’m at an age where I feel I’m ready and need to go and play in the best league in Scotland. I’ve been held back by injuries quite a bit and it is also quite hard to break through at Hibs with a lot of international players signing there.
“Here, I feel I can progress and try to get as many games as I can under my belt.
“I’m at a good age now, 26, where I can go and play regularly. I know it won’t be easy with Nathan signing as well, but it’s a good challenge.
“It is just going to be a straight fight for the gloves.”
Laidlaw, who emerged from Raith Rovers’ youth ranks to play for the Kirkcaldy first team, was sold on a move to County as long ago as February.
He added: “I knew of County’s interest just after January and I came up and met both managers and the goalkeeping coach Scott Thomson.
“They showed me around the place and I was genuinely blown away by how good the facilities are – it is absolutely brilliant. It compares favourably to anything I’ve seen in the Premiership.
“With the way the two managers spoke about their aims for the club, I thought it would be a good time for me to come and join.”