Ross Callachan is determined to drive Ross County away from any threat of a Premiership relegation battle, having suffered the drop last season with Hamilton.
The 27-year-old attacking midfielder is new boss Malky Mackay’s first signing for the Staggies, snapped up on a two-year deal last week ahead of rivals to help bolster their attacking options.
Thanks to a last-day win at Motherwell, County secured a 10th spot finish and a win over Accies the week before all but sent Hamilton down, with Kilmarnock relegated too via a play-off defeat against Dundee.
On a personal level, the ex-Hearts and Dundee player shone at New Douglas Park.
Ten goals and plentiful assists kept Accies’ survival bid alive until the latter stage of the campaign when the Championship became the reality for 2021/22.
Callachan is determined to nail a place in the side and improve upon his form to help the Staggies soar.
‘Bittersweet’ year as Callachan soared amid Accies’ relegation
He admits: “Last season was bittersweet because I was doing well personally, but we were not doing well as a team so that was quite hard.
“After last season, the main thing I want to achieve is Premiership safety. Anything after that is a bonus.
“The club don’t want to have another season like they did last season. I want to help them push on.”
He is clearly grateful to Hamilton boss Brian Rice for giving him game time and belief to take his top game on to the park.
He said: “The manager explained how he wanted me to play. I knew I would play most weeks, without meaning to be big-headed. That was massive for me, playing week in, week out consistently.
“Added to that, scoring goals and assisting helped me to enjoy it. That came from training.
Callachan tries to take training form into matches
“I played the way I trained, so that come Saturday it just happened naturally for me. That comes with playing every week, through consistency.
“I felt I had a season like that in my locker, but over the past two years I had never had the chance to show it.
“When you are in and out of the team it’s hard to do well.”
Rice, who is former assistant manager at Caley Thistle, wished Callachan all the best for the switch to the Highlands.
Callachan said: “It wasn’t difficult to tell Brian about me leaving because he is an amazing guy.
“He wouldn’t stop me from going anywhere if it was to progress my career and he told me that. He just asked that I told him what I was doing (with regards to a move).
“As soon as I knew what I was doing, I picked up the phone and told him. He was brilliant. He wished me all the best and said Inverness, where I’m staying, is a lovely city.”
Staggies showed desire to land Accies forward
Other clubs were keen to land the forward, but Callachan explained: “Ross County showed they wanted me, more than other clubs. I wanted to go somewhere I was wanted. Most players will tell you that.
“I’ve not heard a bad word about Ross County. Lots of people speak highly of the club and of Inverness and Dingwall. Coming here was a no-brainer.”
Strengthened top-flight with Hearts and Dundee
Callaghan also looking forward to locking horns with two of his former clubs in what is shaping up to be a competitive top-flight.
He added: “With Hearts and Dundee in the Premiership, I am looking forward to going back to those clubs and playing against them. It will be a tough league overall, but we will relish it.”