BY IAIN COLLIN – Capital City Press
Ross Callachan is desperate to stay a Raith Rovers regular under new boss Ray McKinnon – to prove he was right to knock back the chance to step up to the Premiership with Ross County.
The 21-year-old has started both cup ties so far this term and is thrilled he appears to be an integral part of McKinnon’s new-look side as they prepare for the big league kick-off at home to Livingston this afternoon.
The midfielder confesses a change of management can create some uncertainty in any squad, but believes Rovers are thriving on the fresh ideas and approach brought by McKinnon this summer.
And the youngster, who has been full-time at Stark’s Park since he was 16, is determined to show he made a sound decision in ignoring interest from the Staggies to pen a new deal back in April tying him to Raith until 2017.
He said: “I feel this is a big season for me. Once I got in the team last year, I felt I did quite well, so I am looking to kick on this year and add goals to my game.
“There was a little bit of interest from Ross County last season. Jim McIntyre had spoken to my agent.
“I am not sure what happened but my heart was set on staying here.
“I knew if I did well in pre-season I would definitely play. That’s all I really wanted – to be guaranteed games.
“I think if I went anywhere else, I wasn’t sure I would get that.
“The gaffer said that he watched a few of our games last season and he liked me as a player, so that was good to hear.”
As a central midfielder, Callachan does not have far to look for a mentor as bids to build his game.
McKinnon was a cultured play-maker in his own career with Dundee United, Aberdeen and Nottingham Forest, whilst assistant-manager Grant Johnson also plied his trade in the centre of the park with the likes of Dundee United, Huddersfield Town and the Scotland under-21s side.
And Callachan has joked that, since taking over from predecessor Grant Murray in May, McKinnon has not been slow in schooling his new charges on his playing highlights – particularly his famous hat-trick of free-kicks for United in a 3-2 win against Kilmarnock in February 1997.
Callachan added: “He’s been telling us to watch videos of him on YouTube – and he has mentioned his hat-trick of free-kicks just a few times!
“Seriously though, the gaffer and Grant are always giving me wee tips on the training field, and that can only help.”