Ross County manager Malky Mackay feels Blair Spittal is reaping the benefits of a fitness drive that was laid out to him in the summer.
Midfielder Spittal is County’s leading scorer with four goals in all competitions, after netting a double in last weekend’s 2-2 draw against Hearts.
Spittal was awarded a new one-year deal at Victoria Park in the summer, after playing a major role in securing County’s survival towards the end of last term.
The 25-year-old had previously looked to be on his way out of Dingwall, after spending the early part of last term on loan with Partick Thistle, who were in League One at the time.
Mackay says he identified a need for vice-captain Spittal to become fitter when he took over as manager in the summer, and he feels the former Dundee United player has reacted strongly.
Mackay said: “I knew him from before as to who he was, but we had a conversation in pre-season when I laid out what I thought he could be and what he needed to do.
“We both chatted about it, and I thought he needed to be fitter and to be able to play 90 minutes regularly.
“With a player as talented as he is, that’s something we both agreed on.
“From day one of pre-season, he has come in and applied himself really well. Off the pitch he’s a big character, he’s someone that’s lively in the dressing room and I really like that.
“I promised him that if he did everything we asked him to do, he will see signs of improvement in his own game.
“His stamina will be there, he will last longer in games and be able to make the extra runs.
“I have shown him the evidence of that, getting into positions more and more, and the number of 90 minute matches he has played.
“He has embraced that and kicked on, and he’s one of the voices in the dressing room.
“On Saturday, he scored two goals and got himself into some clever positions. Anything we are involved in, he’s certainly got a hand in.
“If he keeps trusting the staff that are here at the moment, he will continue to flourish.”
County face an on-form Motherwell side at Fir Park on Saturday, with Graham Alexander’s men coming into the match fresh from a 1-1 draw against Rangers at Ibrox, which followed a run of three straight victories.
Mackay, who hopes to have defender Harry Clarke back following an ear infection, says Well’s threat from set-pieces has been a major focus for his side in training.
He added: “After six games, four of Motherwell’s goals have come from set-pieces. I see a team that aggressively wants to attack the ball.
“Every week we look at set-pieces, because it is such a massive part of the game,. You see teams that have a threat from a certain area and a certain player that can deliver a good ball.
“There have been Champions League finals where one cross and one header has separated two of the best teams in the world. When two teams are evenly matched, one set-piece can change the game.”