Stevie Mallan admits there have been moments when he feared his switch to Barnsley was a grave mistake.
However, the Scotland under-21 player insists he is now relishing the opportunity to prove himself all over again.
The 21-year-old joined Barnsley from St Mirren in a £200,000 deal but is yet to make his senior bow for the SkyBet Championship side.
Having been a true talisman for the Buddies, scoring 29 goals in more than 100 outings, the playmaker concedes the adjustment to bit-part player has been tough.
However, Mallan believes he is finally finding his feet for Barnsley’s under-23 side and will soon make his mark as a more complete, well-rounded midfielder.
“In the first couple of months – as anyone would – you start to wonder ‘why am I here?’” said Mallan honestly. “At St Mirren, I knew I was going to be playing every week. I didn’t expect to move down and go straight into the team, but when you are training every day and thinking you are doing well, then not getting into the team, it can be frustrating.
“It was harder at the start, but I have came to terms with it now and it is just about me showing what I can do. The manager [Paul Heckingbottom] has spoken to me a lot and people at the club have helped me. They have seen that I have been frustrated and told me what I need to work on personally to get into the team.
“I think I have learned a lot since I moved down and my game has changed as well. It’s just about getting a chance and taking it.”
Mallan’s lack of first-team football has been thrown into sharp relief by the form of compatriot Liam Lindsay, who has cemented his place in the Barnsley side since joining from Partick Thistle and is earning rave reviews. .
.“I was shocked that he wasn’t called up [for Scotland] actually,” said Mallan. “I’ve watched him most weeks and he’s a great player.”
As he desperately seeks to catch Heckingbottom’s eye, Mallan knows shining for Scotland’s under-21 side against Ukraine on Tuesday night in Perth would be a good start.
“Hopefully doing well for Scotland can show the manager what I can do in big games,” added Mallan. “It’s that extra little bit of proof of what I can do if he wants to throw me in.”