FIGHT BACK TO THE TOP
Connor has big plans to impress at Montrose
Connor McLaren knows first hand how difficult making the breakthrough in the Scottish Premiership can be.
But that isn’t stopping the Auchterarder midfielder, previously of St Johnstone, from targeting a return to the top of the sport.
The nimble-footed winger was, at one point, on the verge of breaking into the Perth side’s first team.
But he was released earlier this year following loan spells at Elgin City and Stirling Albion.
McLaren (20) now finds himself plying his trade with League Two Montrose, where he recently penned a deal until the end of the season.
“Being from Auchterarder, I was delighted to sign with the local club,” McLaren said. “I had just left Celtic and was looking to stay full-time and preferably locally after having to stay in digs while being with Celtic.
“I believed I was close to earning some game time at Saints having made the bench, including the Europa League tie at home against Alashkert. A memory that sticks out was the European away trip.
“I’ve learned that it’s getting increasingly tough to breakthrough at that level as clubs are increasingly under pressure for points and bringing youngsters through comes with risk.
“I’m now currently working at Gleneagles which is a bit of a culture shock having the job as well as football. But I’m enjoying it as much as I can.
“I have aspirations to get back to full-time football but for now my focus is on Montrose and seeing what we can do in the league this year.
“I would say I want success like most footballers and I want to see how far I can push myself in the sport. I have always hoped to be a professional.”
McLaren has a strong hunger to prove his worth while playing for the Links Park men this term, who have started the season strongly.
Settling in at the club has been seamless with fellow former Saints Andrew Steeves and Jordan Millar in the squad.
“I’m thoroughly enjoying being at Montrose and it’s a strong changing room,” McLaren said. “We’ve started just about as well as possible. There are some familiar faces which always helps when going into a new environment. I knew both Andrew Steeves and Jordan Millar before coming to the club so it’s made it easy.
“The league standard is getting higher all of the time, especially with a lot of players coming down from the higher leagues. I’m just doing my best just now at Montrose and hopefully we continue the strong start.”
McLaren initially joined Montrose on a one month deal but impressed manager Stewart Petrie.
Petrie said: “Connor’s performances have been very encouraging. He has fitted in really well and gives us another dimension to our attacking options. Extending his contract was an easy decision to make.”