Peterhead’s Andrew McCarthy feels he’s a different player as a result of his hard work in lockdown.
As the Blue Toon prepare to start the League One season against Airdrieonians at the Penny Cars Stadium tomorrow, the midfielder is in a good place.
McCarthy has put in impressive and energetic displays in League Cup victories over Dundee United and Brechin City.
The 21-year-old joined the Buchan side in January, but struggled for fitness and only made three appearances before last season was cut short in March.
But the former Partick Thistle and Queen of the South player has got himself into peak condition under the guidance of Peterhead’s fitness coach Stuart Hogg.
McCarthy said: “I’m just happy to be fit and to be playing. I’ve worked hard to get into this position.
“On Tuesday night I tired a bit in the second half, but it was two games in three days and the first time I’ve done that for a long time.
“I know there’s a lot I can improve on and a lot that I can get better at, but I’ll work at that.
“I’m getting sharper and I’m delighted to be playing because that’s what any footballer wants to do.
“I’ve felt the difference because of the fitness work I’ve done and I think it’s changed my game.
“I’ve been box-to-box in the two games so far, whereas, previously I might have just been sitting, so I think people are noticing that difference in my game and it’s a lot better for me I’m able to do that now.”
Airdrie are operating with a hybrid squad of some full-time and some part-time players.
It’s not an easy opener for Peterhead, but, after the positivity generated in the League Cup group stage, McCarthy hopes the Blue Toon can continue in that manner.
He added: “We want to start well and try to continue the form from the League Cup.
“We feel we’ve started the season well and are gelling together as a team.
“We probably couldn’t have asked for a lot more in terms of how we’ve started in the League Cup.
“We know Airdrie will be tough opposition because they have some good players.
“But most games will be tough in the league because it’s so tight, but hopefully we can start well and continue what we’ve been doing. Another quick start would be ideal.”
Peterhead have given themselves a chance of League Cup progression after beating Brechin 3-1 on Tuesday.
Jim McInally’s men blew the Angus side away with three goals in the first 25 minutes and finish off Group C against Kelty Hearts and St Johnstone next month.
McCarthy said: “It was about getting off to a quick start, I think that’s what you need to do in games if you can.
“The start of the second half wasn’t quite as planned (conceding a goal in the first minute) but we regrouped again and did well to get through the game.
“We’re in a great position in the group with two games left.
“But we start in the league on Saturday and we need to focus on that.
“But we couldn’t ask to be in a better position in the League Cup, so hopefully we can take good confidence into the Kelty game and try to get another win.”
Peterhead will be without Ben Armour (hamstring) and Josh Mulligan (ankle) for tomorrow’s game, as well Gary Fraser, who is self-isolating after his partner tested positive for coronavirus earlier this week.
McInally said: “It’s something that over this season will happen a lot to all clubs I’m sure.
“Gary’s frustrated he has to miss training and games because of it, but that’s the way things are and the main thing is that Gary and his partner are both ok.”