GRAHAM DORRANS has praised new boss John Hughes for giving the Athletic players the confidence to be brave on the ball.

And the 34-year-old admitted he was delighted to hear his manager highlight his leadership qualities in the build-up to Saturday’s win over Ayr United, which the midfielder described as their best performance of the season.

Dorrans returned to the team for the victory at Inverness Caledonian Thistle after six matches out with an ankle injury, and again skippered the Pars to their first home three points of the campaign against the Honest Men.

The impact Hughes has had on the squad has been immediate and, speaking ahead of the Scottish Cup tie tomorrow (Friday) at Partick Thistle, Dorrans has been enthused by it.

“I think just everyone wanted the ball, everyone was confident,” he said.

“The new manager’s come in and he’s gave everyone a new lease of life, told everyone that he wants everyone to be brave and get on the ball, and I think that’s what you saw on Saturday.

“He’s told us he wants us to be brave, take the ball and pass it, and if we make a mistake doing that, then he’ll take the blame for that. It’s good to hear that as players because it makes people more confident.

“For people who might be low on confidence because of the run we’ve been on, it’s refreshing to hear that and they maybe come out of their shell a little bit and it brings that performance out.

“Hopefully, we can build on it; it’s just a start. Saturday was a good performance but the gaffer’s only been in the door a week and it’s something to build on.

“I think just coming in the desire he has, the way he wants us to press the ball and to get the ball back helps straight away. I think the last week he wants to work as hard as possible – we maybe went away from that a little bit previously – so I think that’s what he’s really worked on for the first few days he’s been in.

“It’s two wins on the bounce and it’s good for us to try and build a bit of momentum with the new manager coming in, but I think the most pleasing thing wasn’t just the result, it was the overall performance.

“I think from start to finish we controlled the game, just what the gaffer was looking for, so it’s great to get the three points but, for me, the most important thing was the overall performance.”

Prior to the weekend, Hughes was quoted as saying that Dorrans “wants to lead from the front and set the standards”, and described him as the best player at the club.

When asked if it was a boost to hear his manager talk about his leadership skills, Dorrans replied: “It’s nice to hear.

“The gaffer had a quick chat to me through the week about being the captain and I’m happy to do that. I’m not someone who goes about shouting and screaming at the top of my voice all the time but I think on the pitch I can lead the young boys, help them out and talk to them in that sense.

“It’s nice to hear the gaffer say that and I’m more than capable of that responsibility.

“I’ve been captain of most teams I’ve been at just for a few games but I’ve never been club captain at any club I’ve been at. It’s always an honour when the manager comes and asks you that.

“If I can give a little bit of experience to the young boys coming through – we’ve got quite a young team – and can help them out, then great.”