Bristol City fans are seeing the best of me now, says winger Martyn Woolford
REJUVENATED Bristol City winger Martyn Woolford believes Robins fans are finally seeing him at his best – almost two years after he first arrived at Ashton Gate from Scunthorpe.
Signed by previous City manager Keith Millen in January 2011, the Yorkshireman arrived with the reputation as a goalscoring midfielder.
But things did not work out for Woolford to begin and he struggled to hold down a regular place in the starting line-up.
That, in turn, undermined his confidence and caused some supporters to turn on him.
But boss Derek McInnes showed belief in Woolford when others had lost faith and the winger is now repaying the Scot with some of the best form of his career in the Championship.
Restored to the starting line-up at the start of the campaign, Woolford has scored three goals in four games to win over the doubters and is showing the kind of form that suggests he can play a big part this season.
He said: "Confidence is a huge factor in it. I'm going into games now thinking I'm going to score and the team is going to win.
"When you are full of confidence, it is a totally different mind-set.
"This time last season, I would be thinking 'if I don't play out of my skin, then I'm going to be back out of the team and have the fans on my back'.
"You're worried that if you try something and make a mistake, that's it for the next game."
Woolford's goal against Crystal Palace last month typified his new-found belief, the winger producing a sublime finish to beat Julian Speroni in a one-on-one situation that demanded a cool head.
He admitted: "I probably would not have scored a goal like that last season. It was a cheeky finish and I don't think I'd have been confident enough to try it back then.
"I know now that, if I try something and make a mistake, the other players are good enough to back me up and get me out of trouble. We've signed some really good players and that fills you full of confidence.
"I've set myself a ten-goal target this season and I'm not afraid to admit it. Some people thought that was a bit optimistic, but I've already scored three times and I feel as though there is a lot more to come."
Recalling his first 18 months of struggle at Ashton Gate, Woolford said: "I came in at a time when I was full of confidence having been playing for Scunthorpe, but it didn't quite happen for me.
"I still went into last season feeling one per cent fit and confident, but found it difficult getting into the swing of things when I was not in the team every week.
"There was never really a time when I did not feel a part of the squad, but I always felt there were other players in front of me. I've worked as hard as I can to make sure I can get into the starting line-up and the gaffer has shown confidence in me.
"He has shown us it is a squad game and that every person is important and will play a part. He has reassured us that we are here because we are the players he wants to work with.
"I'm benefiting from getting a run of games and feel I'm back to being the confident player I was at Scunthorpe."
Bristol City full-back Richard Foster has been called into the Scotland squad after Charlie Mulgrew became the latest defender to pull out.
Mulgrew has succumbed to the Achilles injury that kept him out of Celtic's draw against Hibernian on Saturday and will miss tomorrow's opening World Cup qualifier against Serbia.