The target of securing a new contract with Ross County will be a driving factor for veteran winger Michael Gardyne in the coming weeks.
Gardyne, 35, has had to be patient for his opportunity in recent weeks, with his start in last Sunday’s 1-0 victory over Celtic just his second since John Hughes took over from Stuart Kettlewell in December.
The Dundee-born player has a long association with the Staggies, which now amounts to more than 12 years across four different spells.
Gardyne, who is County’s all-time record appearance holder and goalscorer, is eager to prolong his stay at Victoria Park and hopes a sustained run in the side can earn him a fresh deal.
Gardyne, who is hoping to get the nod to face St Mirren in Paisley today, said: “It’s just that one where you are out of contract at the end of the season. If you are not playing every week, how do you justify getting a new contract?
“I want to be starting games, so I can put out performances that show I’m worthy of a new contract.
“I’m a footballer and I want to play games.
“I’m a bit of a fiery character and I have chapped the manager’s door a few times, and had a few chats with him.
“He’s mentioned himself that we played the practice match last week and he gave a couple of us a chance in that because we did well.
“It looked on Sunday like we took that chance.
“Hopefully that’s a good thing for me and I stay in the team this weekend.”
Despite his advancing years, Gardyne says additional fitness work has kept him feeling as fresh as ever, as he hopes to delay his ambition to move into coaching for as long as possible.
The former Dundee United and Celtic player added: “It has always been football. I would like to go into a bit of coaching, and get my B licence done.
“Hopefully that’s not for another year or two. I’m feeling good and fit, I’m still feeling sharp.
“Hopefully there’s plenty more to come on the pitch. For me age is just a number, but I feel like you need to do more when you get older. I always thought when I was younger I would maybe need to do less.
“I think you need to do more in training, and in the gym. Nutrition is probably the most important thing, looking after your body better.
“I’m not doing any less than I have done in previous years on the training pitch or gym, if anything I’m doing a bit more.
“I’m an old man now in footballing terms. We’ve got a few good young lads coming through. We’ve got lads like Harry Paton that are still learning.
“They are in their 20s, but you are never done learning.
“I’m still learning at 35. It’s good to be part of that. It feels nice to be an older player passing on my knowledge of the game.”
Gardyne has won the League Cup with County along with two Championship titles, however, he says Premiership points are the greatest prize on offer for his side at present as they look to extend their two-point gap above the foot of the table.
He added: “The high points are nice. I have obviously been relegated as well, which is the lowest you could feel. It was horrible that day at St Johnstone (in 2018).
“It’s the highs you want in football. At the minute for us, that’s winning games.
“We are not going to win a cup, or be top-six this season.
“For us the high is to win three points on a Saturday just now. It was great to do it last weekend, and we have got nine massive games coming up and we need to get as many wins as we can.
“That will be our high come the weekend at 5pm.”