ABERDEEN starlet Michael Paton believes that being battered about in the Scottish lower leagues helped him toughen up — and now he wants to regularly take on SPL defenders.
The 20-year-old former Scotland youth international was sent to Glebe Park by former boss Jimmy Calderwood in a bid to toughen him up.
He returned physically and mentally stronger and forced his way into the Dons side at the end of last season, scoring against Rangers at Ibrox.
And now Paton is desperate to build on that tremendous start under new Dons boss Mark McGhee.
Paton said: "Jimmy wanted me to go out on loan to toughen myself up and the time at Brechin did me the world of good.
"The Second Division is full of big guys who just want to trample all over you.
"It made me a stronger player. I noticed it when I came back and went up against Andrew Considine in training. I didn't just bounce off him all the time, like I did before."
Paton and fellow Dons youngster Peter Pawlett saw first-team action towards the end of last term as Calderwood freshened things up in the push for Europe.
Many Dons youngsters have been played at the end of seasons, some scoring goals in Glasgow like Bryan Prunty and John Stewart, but their SPL careers have then ground to a halt.
But Paton is determined to impress Mark McGhee during pre-season training and the upcoming friendly fixtures and force his way up the pecking order for the coming campaign.
He said: "This is now a huge season for me. We have a new boss so it's a clean slate for everyone.
"If he tells me I'm starting our first SPL game against Celtic I feel I'm ready for it. If I can do it at Ibrox then I can do it anywhere."
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