Ross County winger Michael Gardyne feels a weight has been lifted off his shoulders as he aims to help the Staggies in their Premiership survival push.
Gardyne had been cited by the Scottish FA following allegations he made a discriminatory remark to a Rangers player during a 4-0 defeat to the Ibrox side on December 6.
The charge was earlier this week dropped however, with Gardyne’s notice of complaint withdrawn prior to the hearing date.
Gardyne insists he was always confident he would be declared innocent given the lack of evidence, with County having already decided to take no further action following their own investigation into the incident.
Having been subjected to online abuse since the incident, Gardyne hopes a line can be drawn under the matter as he looks to focus on the challenge of keeping the Staggies in the top-flight.
Gardyne said: “I thought it was dead and buried after the game, but there were comments made after the game that kind of left it out there.
“It’s nice to see it’s been dropped now, which was always going to be the outcome in my eyes.
“Even if it went to a trial I would have been found not guilty because there was no evidence there whatsoever.
“It was tough. For five or six weeks it was not nice with the private messages and stuff I was receiving through social media.
“It was hard, you get through it, but it was horrible.
“Hopefully it can be put to bed now and I can focus on trying to help my team in the next games that are coming up.”
Gardyne has found game time limited under John Hughes, with his substitute appearance in Wednesday’s 2-1 loss to Motherwell just his third outing under the new manager.
The 35-year-old says the lack of minutes has been frustrating but the Staggies’ record goalscorer and appearance holder insists he has been right behind his team-mates during his absence from the field.
He added: “It has been really frustrating for myself personally.
“I have been training really well, and to not even be getting on in games is a bit hard to take, especially when we are needing goals or a bit of spark.
“It was good to come on against Motherwell and I did all right, I got a few crosses in the box.
“Hopefully I can take it into next week and I can maybe get some more game time, create some chances and we can get some goals.
“We have got a lot of players, so it’s hard to keep everybody happy.
“We need to make sure we are that bunch where the boys that aren’t playing are behind the boys that are playing.
“We could see that when we went a goal up against Motherwell – there were nine lads on the bench celebrating the goal.
“That’s the way it needs to be until the end of the season. We are going to need everyone, and everybody is wanting to play.”
County’s defeat to Well leaves them 11th in the table, just a point ahead of Wednesday’s opponents Hamilton Accies.
Gardyne feels the Staggies need to show more of an ugly side in the relegation scrap that awaits them, adding: “It’s 12 massive games, it’s the old saying of ‘cup finals.’
“It could go to the wire, there are a lot of games against teams around about us as well.
“They are massive as they become six-pointers. We just need to make sure we keep doing what we are doing.
“We maybe need to be a bit more ugly and a bit more horrible. The teams we play against dive, they referee the game, and we need to be a bit more like that. We need to shout for fouls, go down, and stop being too honest like we are.”