Ross County defender Liam Fontaine is determined to show the Staggies are a stronger entity after winning promotion back to the top-flight at the first attempt.
County are preparing for life back in the Premiership, after co-managers Stuart Kettlewell and Steven Ferguson guided the Dingwall men to the Championship title following relegation 12 months ago.
That setback followed a six-year stint in the Premiership, however Englishman Fontaine feels the Staggies have made the most of their opportunity to rebuild in the second-tier.
Fontaine, who helped Hibernian win promotion from the Championship in 2017, said: “I think we can build on it. Sometimes going through relegation can help a club because then you can clear out what you need to clear out.
“You can rebuild a whole new squad with a whole new hunger, with new managers – in our case new to the managerial game as well.
“It was a whole new team and animal that was built and it can do good.
“I can relate it back to Hibs who did the same thing. They went down and had to rebuild from scratch, bringing in the people they did not just player-wise but with Leanne Dempster and George Craig.
“It is proven it can work in a positive way. So long as a club brings in the right people, then relegation can always benefit the club longer-term.”
Fontaine is not underestimating the challenge that awaits the Highlanders in the top-flight however, adding: “What people class as the top four or five are going to be very strong. We need to set ourselves a realistic target. We’ll keep that within camp, but it is just great to be back.”
Fontaine missed much of last season due to a ruptured achilles which he suffered in November, but returned to feature in County’s title-clinching 4-0 victory over Queen of the South in April.
The 33-year-old is thrilled to be back involved, adding: “At the age I’m at, maybe people thought it was too much to do, but the club looked after me and sent me to the right surgeon.
“When I did the injury a lot of people said I wouldn’t be back until August this year.
“You set targets in your head and keep them to yourself. You’d never rush back from injury, but I had a good surgeon and the rehabilitation of the actual tendon was great.
“I wasn’t rushing it or pushing myself, but I was able to tick boxes early. I didn’t think about proving a point, but I did everything right and got given the all-clear along the way.”