Simon Murray is out to prove he belongs in the Premiership after rekindling the kind of goalscoring form that made him an early hit at Hibernian.
The striker, who joined Ross County last January, netted his ninth goal in 10 games to give the Dingwall hosts the lead against Livingston on Saturday.
While Bruce Anderson levelled soon after, the point in the 1-1 draw maintained a promising start for County, whose only defeats have been to Rangers and Celtic in their 10 games so far this season.
Murray has struck a rich vein of form
Murray, now 31, was a Neil Lennon signing for Hibs from Dundee United in 2017 and exploded onto the Easter Road scene with 10 goals in seven games.
But after scoring against Rangers at Ibrox, the Dundonian hit a barren streak from mid-August to mid-October.
While he tucked away four more goals that autumn, Lennon decided to let him leave on loan to Dundee for the second half of the campaign.
Murray never regained a foothold with Hibs and began a Premiership exile with an 18-month spell at South Africa’s Bidvest Wits before cruciate damage.
Prolific form followed back in Scotland with Queen’s Park before County swooped last season, but with Malky Mackay using him sparingly until late last season, some had questioned his Premiership credentials.
None of that bothers Murray, who stressed he only wanted to prove to himself he could thrive in the top league.
Reflecting on his brilliant start, he said: “My game is more about being a full team player, but at the same time strikers are judged on goals.
“I’m not saying I can’t be dropped, but I definitely feel like I’m putting in good performances and I think the manager is fairly happy with what I am doing.
“But I feel like there is more to come as well.
“People judge people – even Ronaldo is judged about whether he can keep doing it – but you prove things to yourself not for the benefit of others.
“You keep working hard for yourself and your family.
“But at the same time I want to prove to myself that this is where I belong and I think so far I am doing that and I want to keep the foot on the pedal.
“I’ll take my start. I started at Hibs with similar numbers, but I look back on my time there and realise I probably did things wrong, then went off the boil.
“So I can learn from that, and I know what I need to do to keep it going.”
Frustration at two points dropped
It was no classic contest at Victoria Park, but the Staggies always looked to be on top and likeliest to take full points even after Anderson struck against the run of play.
“We are probably frustrated and disappointed with just one point, but you have to look at the positives and it’s a long season,” Murray said.
“There are going to be games like that.
“At the same time, we are creating two or three chances a half, maybe even more, and if you keep that up over the duration of a season it’s a positive.”
‘We won’t be in the same situation as last season’
Murray is optimistic regarding County’s prospects of avoiding a repeat of last season’s brush with relegation.
“We’ve got a great bunch of boys,” he said. “We went to Killie and got a great win and we backed it up with a good performance against Livingston to put another point on the board.
“We’ve played Celtic and Rangers as well and are sitting sixth. We’ve got a good two weeks to look forward to with games against Aberdeen and the chance to get to a national semi-final as well.
“I think there is reason to feel positive we won’t be in the same situation as last season as we’ve got good options and a strong squad pushing each other.”