KILMARNOCK right-back Ross Barbour believes he has matured on and off the pitch after being given the shock news of impending fatherhood.
The 21-year-old did not play a first-team game last season until late March, after he learned he and his girlfriend were expecting a baby, although he began the campaign injured.
Barbour went on to play the final seven games of the season to help keep Killie in the Scottish Premiership, earning himself a new two-year contract in the process, and he has played in all seven of their league games this term.
And he admits the need to provide for his daughter has given new meaning to playing football.
“I’ve got a baby on the way on November 8 so I’m looking forward to it,” Barbour said ahead of the League Cup third-round meeting with St Johnstone at Rugby Park.
“My life has changed a lot already. The last five months I have hardly ever been out. I have just been sitting in with Kayleigh, so it has probably helped my football because it’s been a quiet life.
“We weren’t planning it so it was a shock but there’s not much you can do, you just need to look forward to it.
“I’ve had a few eye-openers from a few boys who have already had kids, and a few pointers along the way.
“This becomes more of a job now than a hobby, because I will need to provide for my wee girl.”
But Barbour knows that keeping his place in the team will not be easy following the signing of former Sheffield United right-back Darryl Westlake.
“It’s been good playing every game this year but there is competition there so I know I always have to be on my toes. Darryl Westlake has come in, Mark O’Hara can play right-back and so can Jamie Hamill. So I know if I don’t play well then I know I will be out of the team.”
Barbour did his cause no harm on Saturday as Killie held Hamilton to a goalless draw - their third clean sheet of the season.
“We never played really well against Hamilton, especially the first half, and they had quite a lot of possession, but they never really had any chances, which is credit to the boys,” he said.
“We worked well together and I think we have worked well quite a lot of the season stopping teams getting chances.
“I think that’s probably one of the main differences from last season, we are a lot tighter at the back.”