Jack McMillan dropped down a division when he signed for Partick Thistle to get more game time and become a better player, but his goal was always to put that improvement to use back in Scotland’s top flight.
The 25-year-old has already achieved the first part of the plan he made when he left Livingston last summer, his performances in the cinch Premiership play-offs so far being evidence of that.
The right-back has scored three of Thistle’s 16 goals in their four matches to date, the latest a header against Ayr in his 50th appearance of the season.
This week he gets the chance to complete the other half of his target when Thistle take on Ross County for a place in the top division.
McMillan said: “I enjoyed my four years at Livingston, it was a great time, but my reason for leaving was to get more game time and play regularly.
“I have managed to do that this season – this will be my 51st start in a row.
“But I would like to get back up to the top division and continue to learn and improve.
“I feel I have improved massively. You can only improve from the games that you play and to play 50 this year is incredible. Touch wood, I have not had any niggles or injuries so far.
“I have hit numbers attacking-wise, I set targets and I have exceeded them.”
McMillan’s move was the second time he went one step back to go two steps forward, having left Motherwell in January 2018 after playing 16 games for the Lanarkshire club.
He was quickly back in the Premiership after helping Livi to play-off success which relegated Thistle in the process, and he sees major similarities in the situation he finds himself now.
“In my time at Livingston, the group were very, very tight,” he said. “You probably saw that on the park. It’s very similar traits to this dressing room as well.
“When we came up with Livingston, we would have beaten anybody. It was that kind of mood that we were in. We had a great season. We were tipped for relegation that season so to go up through the play-offs was massive.”
Thistle have lost just once in 17 matches since Kris Doolan took over as manager three months ago.
McMillan said: “The momentum has been there for a while, maybe since the new manager came in.
“He has tweaked a few things, especially formation, and that has helped the players, especially the two full-backs, myself and Holty (Kevin Holt). It has helped us go forward and play that free-flowing football that we have been doing.”