Ross County defender Callum Morris says clean sheets are his major focus this season after last season’s goals against tally left him feeling embarrassed.
Morris was part of a Staggies backline which conceded 60 league goals in 30 games last term, which was the highest figure in the Premiership by a margin of 10 goals.
Morris, who has received call-ups to the Northern Ireland squad but has yet to be capped, says the defensive record was a blow to his personal pride which he is eager to put right this time around.
County have already shown an improvement this term, recording their fourth shut-out from their opening 11 league matches in Saturday’s 0-0 draw against high-flying Hibernian on Saturday.
Although Morris missed the game with a calf injury, he says there has been a conscious effort to keep the goals conceded down.
Morris said: “Defence is obviously an area where last season we were very disappointed.
“The goals conceded was nothing short of embarrassing for me, personally, and something we had to rectify.
“As a defender, it is your job to keep clean sheets. Although we did keep a few, when we conceded goals we tended to concede a lot of goals.
“We didn’t quite have that ability to shut up shop if we lost one goal.
“Often, it would snowball – and that for me isn’t good enough, at any level.
“As a group, the squad and management identified that as probably the main thing we had to put right for the season ahead and we did a lot of work on that.
“To start this season with two clean sheets was brilliant. Regardless of who plays, we need to put a few clean sheets together.
“I’m hoping to have an influence on correcting that this season.”
Former Aberdeen and Dundee United defender Morris struggled to force his way into Stuart Kettlewell’s side in the opening weeks of the campaign, but started the three games prior to suffering his injury in the Betfred Cup win over Arbroath last Wednesday.
The 30-year-old is hopeful of racking up more minutes once he is fit again, adding: “I pride myself on the way I conduct myself on and off the pitch and in training.
“Every Friday before the team is named, you need to have a positive mindset you’re going to be in that team.
“It’s not really a pressure, it is just about wanting to get that first game under the belt and have a kick about with the lads on a Saturday.
“It’s tough not playing, but we just have to go about our job correctly and professionally every day and, if you get a chance, take it. I’m delighted I’ve played a couple of games and I really enjoyed the Rangers game at Ibrox. Hopefully I can give the manager a positive headache.
“I’d like to think if I impress the manager I’ll stay in the team. Every player wants to play every week.”
Morris has been encouraged by the partnership struck between Alex Iacovitti and Coll Donaldson, who have played the majority of County’s games this term.
He added: “Alex Iacovitti has been superb since he’s come in and he and Coll Donaldson have struck up a great relationship. They’ve done really well so far.
“It is mine and Keith Watson’s task to prove to the manager that we should be the ones in the starting jerseys and stake a claim every day in training.
“It has been great, to be fair. There’s a lot of camaraderie between the four of us – we’re all quite close.”