Ross County goalkeeper Ross Laidlaw is relishing the chance to continue impressing in the Scottish Premiership after putting his first full season on the board.
The 29-year-old has played for Raith Rovers and Hibs and had loan stints at Elgin City and Dundee United, but 2020/21 was the campaign when he racked up a whopping for 40 games as the Staggies defied the odds to remain in the top-flight.
There’s little doubt that Laidlaw’s displays earned County key points along the way and he was rewarded with a two-year deal in May.
Regular games led to new deal in summer
Now with Malky Mackay as the manager, he’s eager to help the Staggies kick upwards.
He explained: “I just try to be as consistent as I can. You want to play every week and I think last season was the first in my career where I’ve had a full season playing.
“I’m at a good age now where I can go and play week in, week out and that was part of the decision for me in staying here.
“I want to build on last year and, hopefully, progress with the club and finish higher in the league than we did last year. Hopefully my performances can stay at a level.
“I’m enjoying working with the new manager and I’ve worked well with Scott Thomson, our goalkeeping coach, over the last two years.
“I’ve got a really good relationship with him, which makes a big difference.
“He needs to keep pushing me and, hopefully, I can do even better this year.”
Change of fortune at Dingwall
Laidlaw puts a steering clear of injuries since joining County in 2019 as the chief reason for getting the chance of a consistent run of matches.
He said: “Goalkeepers need to be patient.
“When I was younger, I had a lot of injury issues. I went to Hibs for three years and still have a few injuries, but I’ve managed to stay relatively fit and healthy since coming here to Ross County.
“I’ve been on the training pitch every week and made myself available on a Saturday.
“That’s the big difference. I’m looking after myself better and staying injury-free.
“I’m at an age now where I want to be selected every week. I’ve got that wee bit more experience behind me and decision-making is a bit better as well.
“I’ve served my apprenticeship, being on the bench, but you learn a lot from being understudy to good goalkeepers as well.
“At Hibs, I learned from Ofir Marciano and different goalkeeping coaches.
“But I don’t think you can beat playing every week and in the top league in Scotland you’re facing good opposition as well.
“I really enjoyed last year and I’m looking to build on it.”
Manager capture is coup for County
And the steady shot-stopper admits that landing Mackay as the boss of the Dingwall club was a great piece of business.
He added: “He’s been great since he’s come in. You can see why he’s managed at the top level. He has a bit of class in the way he conducts himself about the club.
“He’s got a presence about him as well. He knows his stuff and he’s out on the training pitch every day, really hands-on.
“You can speak to him about things and he’ll pull you in for wee chats about what he wants from you.
“Everything in training is geared towards Saturday. This week it was all about St Johnstone, what the game plan is and how he wants us to press and set ourselves up defensively.
“It has been really organised and training has been first class since he came in.”