You can measure the impact 21-year-old Marcus Fraser has made at the Global Energy Stadium since he signed a short term deal in January by the fact that less than three months later he was awarded a two year contract extension. Since then Fraser has gone from strength to strength, establishing himself as Jim McIntyre’s favoured choice at right back.
It has been a whirlwind nine months for the young Glasgwegian whose journey comes full circle today when he faces the club he was forced to leave in search of first team football.
“Celtic was a great football club to learn my trade at,” admits Fraser. “It’s a big club with a huge fan base, a great stadium and training facilities and top coaches. I got well looked after there and learned all the right habits and how to be a good professional from an early age.
“But it obviously gets to the point where if you are not playing regularly you need to move on and try and get first team experience,” says Fraser. “When you are 21 years of age you really need to be playing first team football so when the chance to move to Ross County came up I knew it was a good opportunity.”
And so it has proved for the young right back who has been giving opponents nightmares this season with his marauding runs up the right flank.
“It has proved to be a very positive move,” says Fraser. “I have been playing regularly and I just want to keep showing the manager what I can do. The atmosphere at the Club is great just now. We have a good team that can keep on improving. Jim McIntyre and Billy Dodds have a firm idea of where they see the Club going so it really feels like the start of something. All the players have belief in that and the manager has belief in everyone in the squad so we look to take that positive attitude onto the pitch every week.”
Life off the pitch has been rosy since Fraser upped sticks for the Highlands – with unexpected benefits on match days too – and he is at pains to point out that his lifestyle now differs little from that in the Central belt.
“It’s obviously a bit of a change from living in Glasgow but it’s not as if I was living the life down there, going out into the city centre all the time. I was training hard and playing there like I do here. I’m enjoying it here and I guess the main difference is that I socialise more with my teammates here than I might have in Glasgow.
“If anyone is doing something after training or going out for a coffee or whatever, everyone is invited,” adds Fraser. “All the lads get on and there are no divides in the group which is a positive thing and I hope people can see that on the pitch on a Saturday afternoon when we are all fighting for eachother. We stick together and if someone is having a bad game they know their teammates will help pull them through it.”
Bad games have been few and far between for the consistent young defender. And the progress he has made has not gone unnoticed by the powers that be. In October Fraser earned a recall to the Scotland under 21s and an opportunity to add to the five caps he had earned while at Celtic.
“It was great for my confidence to get the call-up,” says Fraser. “I played for Scotland right up through the age groups when I was at Celtic so it’s good to know that now I am at Ross County they have still been keeping track of my progress.
“It’s obviously a huge help that I am playing regular first team football now and I hope that continues,” adds Fraser. “It was great to be back involved with the under 21s and for the next year my focus is on adding to my five caps but in the long term a call up to the senior national side is definitely the ambition.”
As soon as Fraser returned from international duty his focus was straight back on Ross County and the tough run of games coming up, however.
“We have made a good start in the league and League Cup but just need to take it one game at a time,” concedes Fraser. “We had a fantastic win over league leaders Aberdeen in Dingwall a couple of weeks ago then we went to Hearts and probably weren’t at our best. But we bounced back to beat Caley Thistle to make it into the semi finals of the League Cup so we aren’t looking too far beyond of today’s game.
“Celtic are obviously tough opposition – like a lot of the teams are in the league on their day to be honest – but we will have a lot of fans behind us so it should be a good game,” says Fraser. “We will all be 100 per cent up for the game and look to get at them and get a positive result which would be a win and three points”.