RED-HOT Declan McManus admits that he couldn’t have wished for a better start to his Pars career.

But the in-form striker is itching to improve even further and believes he and his team-mates have sent a signal that they can challenge for the Championship title.

After a disappointing loan spell with Raith Rovers last season, the former Morton and Fleetwood Town player has already scored almost half the goals he plundered while at Stark’s Park.

McManus’ confidently-taken opener in Saturday’s beating of Falkirk was his fourth goal for Athletic and the 23-year-old has been heartened by his – and the team’s – early season form.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better start for me and the team and we need to keep that going, he told Press Sport.

“You always strive to do better but I’ve managed to get a few goals and the team are winning. When you sign for a new club, you want to get a goal as early as possible, start well and kick-on.

“Last season was tough for me and the team but I had a good feeling when I signed here. I’m playing with good players and there’s lots of chances being created so it’s been brilliant for me.

“When you’ve got a good connection with the boys behind you it makes it a lot easier because you can play on instinct.

“We wanted to get confidence flying and the League Cup did that for us. We played really well in that and we’ve had a couple of massive wins against the so-called bigger teams in the league.

“Any people who have maybe doubted us, or not considered us to be title challengers, will maybe question that now but all it is is a good start.

“We knew the quality we had and the players we have are good enough to challenge at the top. That’s our goal; we don’t want to be runners-up, or a mid-table team or at the bottom, so we need to keep it going.”

Despite Dunfermline’s strong start, McManus has exercised caution ahead of Saturday’s trip to Dumbarton and continued: “I think Saturday will be a harder test than the two previous games because it’s a hard place to go.

“They never make it easy and you’ve seen that over the years. The games where you’re expected to go and win are where title contenders are made.

“For us, we have to go into every single game with the same mindset.”