Craig Wighton has described his early spell at Hearts as ‘the toughest period of my career’ — but reckons it steeled him for Dunfermline’s travails.
By his own admission, Wighton struggled to make his mark after joining the Jambos from Dundee in 2018.
Starts were fleeting, performances were inconsistent and results proved hard to come by.
He endured relegation to the Championship during the curtailed 2019/20 campaign, albeit he spent the final weeks of the season on loan at Arbroath — and thriving.
Wighton also featured in two Scottish Cup finals in a formative couple of years at Tynecastle.
All of which has given him a sense of perspective regarding the challenges ahead.
“The toughest period of my career was probably the first couple of seasons at Hearts,” recalled Wighton.
“Things weren’t going well for me personally and I wasn’t playing as much as I would have liked.
“When I was playing, I wasn’t doing enough to stay in the team.
“I think there has been a period similar to this at every club I’ve been at, which you can draw from.
“There are a few younger guys who are not used to it — but the majority of this group have been through this before or had pressure on them since they came into the first-team.
“It is part of the game and you need to deal with it.”
That pressure will be stark when Kilmarnock visit East End Park on Saturday.
Dunfermline remain rock bottom of the Championship, without a victory and having scored just four goals in eight matches.
However, boss Peter Grant is adamant that catching leaders Inverness — 15 points ahead of the Pars — is not out of the question in a cut-throat division.
While more modest in his aspirations, Wighton is similarly confident that circumstance can change swiftly.
“A couple of wins turns the whole situation around,” he added.
Is that Craig Wighton or prime Zidane. It’s hard to tell the difference. pic.twitter.com/njXrGE3pFm
— Ay Jay ☭ (@aj__lmao) April 25, 2021
“It is only eight games into the season. It is a long season and plenty of points to play for. The gap is not massive.
“But, we can’t be sitting here a few weeks down the line saying the same things over and over.
“We are still positive and the confidence is there but we need to go and show that.”
The Pars trail Tommy Wright’s Killie by 12 points going into the showdown in Fife, but Wighton is far from cowed by the standings.
He added: “I don’t think there is much in terms of difference between all the teams in the league.
“Our best performance was probably against Inverness [0-0 draw], who are top of the Championship. We know that we can beat these teams.”