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Michael Gardyne plans for next five years after shock axe from Ross County

Michael Gardyne.
Michael Gardyne.

Michael Gardyne admits his immediate future is up in the air as he considers what the next five years will have in store.

The club’s record scorer and appearance holder was not offered a new contract last week, one of 10 players shown the door at the Scottish Premiership club.

That was despite his strong end to the season, which he felt would help secure him another Dingwall deal.

This week the 35-year-old, who has netted 73 times in 444 games, is still digesting his shock exit from the club he has served almost exclusively since 2006.

He’ll discuss his next move with his agent, but explained that it’s not only the next 12 months he has to think about.

He said: “I finished the season really well in the Premiership and I feel I still have a lot to offer at that level.

“At the same time, I have my future beyond football to think about. I will take the next wee bit of time to decide my next step and where I see my next options being.

“While I will think about what I will be doing next season, I need to think where I will be in five years. Part-time football further down the line might be an avenue that I might want to explore.

“After getting the news last Thursday, I spent the weekend with my kids and I will speak to the agent to see what the options are.

“I have had so many great times at the club. Ideally, I would have liked to have continued that. I’ve still got plenty left in the tank.

“I’m still sharp, fit and got a wee bit of pace. Unfortunately, it’s not to be.”

Gardyne, who has been bowled over by the fans’ reaction to his departure from the Staggies, scored in the last-day 2-1 win at Motherwell and the 2-2 draw at Kilmarnock in the run-in.

‘I wasn’t worries in the slightest’

The wide midfielder felt, despite John Hughes not being kept on as boss in favour of Malky Mackay, he’d be handed a deal.

He learned of his fate via a Zoom call, given he was away from the north at the time.

The only news he expected was being called in to sign a contract.

He said: “After getting safe on the last day of the season, you’re just waiting to see what happens.

“The manager (John Hughes) had done his job and I wasn’t worried in the slightest. I thought I would have been fine (in terms of getting a new contract).

“I am not sure how it worked out with John Hughes. From my point of view, there are enough people around the club who know my capabilities.

John Hughes and Richard Brittain, along with Don Cowie, helped Michael Gardyne hit high levels.

“When John Hughes came in, he didn’t know his best team at first. I was on the bench for a spell and I came in for the Celtic game, which we won, and I was back out again.

“But when I got that chance, I played six or seven games in a row and that coincided with me keeping my place in the team.”

Squad power gave Staggies edge over Killie

County climbed to the safe spot of 10th in the Premiership with a hat-trick of wins at the end of the season ensuring they’d be in the top-flight for a ninth year out of 10.

Basement side Hamilton dropped down automatically, while Kilmarnock went down after a 4-2 aggregate play-off final defeat by Dundee, who came up in their place.

Former Rangers and Hearts forward Kyle Lafferty looked to have given Killie a late lift in the fight for survival, scoring 13 goals between February and May.

Kilmarnock’s Kyle Lafferty scoring against Ross County last season.

Gardyne felt County’s overall quality gave them the edge over Tommy Wright’s team, who are out of the top table for the first time in 28 years.

He added: “Kyle Lafferty was doing brilliantly for Kilmarnock and maybe that was their downfall. They mainly had one man trying to keep them afloat, whereas we had a team and squad.

“Even those coming off the bench were making an impact and that’s what you need.

“You don’t want to be in that situation, but – given where we were in January – to stay up was a great achievement in the end.”