Luke McCowan has revealed the fear that keeps him striving for improvement at Dundee.
The 24-year-old found it tough last season being out of the first team at Dens Park.
This term he’s also had to bide his time with Friday’s clash against Arbroath his first start of the campaign after five sub appearances.
The former Ayr United man grabbed his chance with both hands, however, as he rattled in the opening goal in an entertaining 4-2 victory.
But it’s the dread of going back to his old life as a lifeguard that keeps McCowan setting the highest standards for himself, even if his manager has to tell him to go easy at times.
“I needed that,” he said of his goal against the Lichties.
“Obviously I have been in and out of the team and this was my first start in the three league games.
“So hopefully I have made a point and my name might be on the team sheet every week.”
He added: “Last season was so frustrating and was probably the hardest thing to cope with.
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“At Ayr I was probably one of the first names on the team sheet every week.
“Then to come here and find myself maybe in the team for four weeks and then out for two or three was tough.
“I had to tell myself that sometimes it is not yourself that’s the problem, it’s just down to different personnel in different games that come up.
“I have kept my head down this year and the manager (Gary Bowyer) and Billy (Barr) have helped me with that.
“When they first came in, they just spoke to me and said ‘you are very hard on yourself’.
“That’s what’s got me here but they just said to me ‘stop putting pressure on yourself, go and enjoy your football’.
“They said your time in the team will come and hopefully now it does.”
‘Don’t want to go back to cleaning windows’
McCowan admits he is his own biggest critic.
“Oh, aye. That’s how I got myself here,” he said.
“That’s come from when I started playing at Ayr eight or nine years ago in the academy.
“I know how hard it would be to go back to a full-time job so I am going to make sure I never have to go back to that – I will set high standards for myself.
“I don’t want to have to go back to cleaning windows in the sauna and all that.
“Hopefully, I can stick to playing full-time football for the rest of my career.”
‘Need to make games easier’
McCowan set the Dark Blues on their way to an impressive victory over last season’s Championship runners-up.
It may have taken two late goals to see off Arbroath but the three points leaves Dundee top of the table after three games.
That is where they want to stay. However, McCowan admits they can’t rely on late goals every week.
“It was probably an entertaining one for everyone at the game and watching on the TV but for us, we need to make games easier,” he added.
“We probably should have seen the game out in the first half with the chances we had.
“So we just need to make things easier for our own fans, never mind giving people an enjoyable game to watch!
“But somehow we found a way and through hard work we got the win.”