Ross Callachan reckons he can hit new heights in a Ross County shirt following his summer switch from relegated Hamilton.
The 27-year-old midfielder became Malky Mackay’s first signing for the top-flight Staggies and it was his 10 goals in 37 Accies games which caught the attention of County and others who chased him down.
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The former Hearts and Raith Rovers player was impressed by the Dingwall club’s push to land his services and he’s keen to repay them by improving next term.
He said: “I want to kick on and have an even better season. I scored 10 goals last season, but I could have scored more. You can always get better and that’s what I’m aiming to do.
“I am delighted. Ross County showed they really wanted me to sign for them. There’s a wee bit of security by signing a two-year deal too, so I am happy to be here.
“My next move was going to be a big one. I wanted to go to a club where I would have a right good chance of playing.
“After playing a lot of games last year, I didn’t want to move to a club where I would be a squad player. I want to play as many games as I can and do well.”
Aiming higher than a mere survival battle
County won the relegation battle on the final weekend of last season, helped by a crucial victory against Hamilton in the penultimate game.
Accies dropped and Kilmarnock went down too via the play-offs by losing to Dundee.
Callachan shares the vision of driving County away from another campaign of simply surviving.
He explained: “Like me, the club are determined to not be in another relegation battle. There have been a lot of changes here and it all starts with having a really good pre-season. We will all get as fit as we can and take it from there.”
The attacking creator concedes leaving Hamilton wasn’t easy as he enjoyed working under Brian Rice, but stressed his desire to remain a Premiership player was too strong.
He said: “It was a very difficult decision to leave Hamilton. I loved my time there. The club is amazing and they are really good with their players.
“I enjoyed myself on and off the pitch there, but I felt that this was the right decision for me on the back of a good season personally.
“Ross County wanted me and I wanted to continue playing my football at as high a level as I could. To stay in the Premiership was massive for me.”
Handling the heat
Callachan was widely praised for a consistent level of performance at Accies, despite the weekly spotlight and demand for big results.
He stressed: “There is pressure all the time to do well. I put pressure on myself to perform and contribute on the pitch. That comes from yourself.
“When you are on the pitch, you don’t think about the league position until that final whistle goes.
“No matter where you are in the table, you always want to improve. You are always looking at the games coming up to see where you can get points.
“During the season, you are always taking each game as it comes and there is no bigger game than the next one.”
Busy July ends with league opener with St Johnstone
English League One giants Sunderland have been considering a trip north to face County as part of an agreement which saw Ross Stewart move there in January, although the Dingwall team’s early start might mean this plan is shelved until 2022.
County’s competitive season starts in the Premier Sports Cup with a trip to Scottish League Two side Forfar Athletic on July 10, which is eight days before hosting Dundee.
The Staggies will also face Brora Rangers away on July 21 and Montrose, of League One, at home on July 24 in the same competition.
Their Premiership campaign starts on Saturday, July 31, against double cup-winners St Johnstone in Dingwall, before Hibs (away), Rangers (home) and Aberdeen (away) lie in wait in August.