Ross Laidlaw is targeting what he feels is an overdue run with Ross County in the Premier Sports Cup this season.
The Staggies start competitive action on Saturday when they make the trip to Highland League runners-up Buckie Thistle in their first Group C fixture on Saturday.
The Dingwall outfit were denied the opportunity to qualify from the group stage in the early days of Malky Mackay’s reign last season.
Goalkeeper Laidlaw has yet to experience a prolonged cup run since joining the Staggies in 2019.
A memorable 2-0 victory over Celtic at Parkhead in November 2020 took them to the last eight of the League Cup, but they were defeated by Livingston the following month.
Laidlaw – who will compete with new signing Jake Eastwood for the number one jersey this term – is eager to put that right in this year’s competition.
He said: “We never got a good campaign last year because of Covid. We were knocked out before we had even started.
“One of the challenges the manager has set us this year is to see if we can get a good cup run.
“Since I have been at the club that we haven’t really had a cup run which has been a disappointment.
“We beat Celtic two years ago, but we have not really had the run at trying to get to Hampden.
“That’s got to be the challenge for us. We know it’s going to be difficult, and we need to get through the group stages first.
“It would be good to get a wee run in the cup this year, but the bread and butter is going to be the league.”
County drawing a line under last year’s success
Despite the early-season disappointment in the League Cup, County went on to enjoy a thoroughly successful first campaign under Mackay.
The Staggies finished sixth in the Premiership, in their first top-half finish for six years.
Although County have lost some key players, Mackay has acted quickly to bring eight new faces in.
Laidlaw is keen to embrace a fresh start this term, adding: “We have kept the bulk of the squad.
“We lost a few important players, but the manager has brought in new players and hopefully they can gel early doors.
“That’s the process we are going through just now.
“There is still a feel-good factor but we draw a line under it.
“We did well last season, but we can’t just think it will happen again. We put a lot of hard work in, and the manager stressed in pre-season that we need to do that this year as well if we want to achieve anything we did last year.
“This is now a completely different season, and we need to start again.”
Staggies back in action against Highland League opposition
County play their first pre-season friendly against Brora Rangers at Dudgeon Park on Wednesday.
Having returned from a six-day training camp in Italy at the weekend, Laidlaw is eagerly anticipating the return to playing action.
The 29-year-old added: “It was good to go out to Italy and get the training done, but any footballer will tell you they want to play games.
“We got a lot of hard work done but everyone is desperate to get into competitive football right away.
“That’s what’s good about the League Cup, as we have competitive fixtures right away after the friendly against Brora.
“We are looking forward to it.”