CHARLIE MULGREW reckons he has IMPROVED since his summer switch from Scottish kings Celtic to Championship strugglers Blackburn Rovers.
The versatile 31-year-old defender won five Premiership titles at the Hoops before leaving at the end of his contract.
Now, instead of chasing a sixth crown at Parkhead, he is involved in the relegation dogfight to try to prevent the Ewood Park outfit dropping into the English third tier.
However, Mulgrew insisted he is relishing the new tests under ex-Hoops boss Tony Mowbray who replaced Own Coyle a month ago.
He said: “It has been good, I’m enjoying the change. It’s something different, playing different teams and we’ve got a big challenge for the rest of the season.
“At the time a lot of people thought it wasn’t the right move for me, but I wanted to do it.
“I wanted to experience something different at this stage of my career and at my age it was probably my last chance to go down south.
“Off the field, everything has been great. On the field, it has been difficult in terms of picking up results, but I’ve never regretted my decision.
“A lot of the games are more even down there and that was part of why I wanted to go down.
“I wanted to be part of that and I feel it has improved me, as well.
“You have a lot of the ball at Celtic, in most games you’ve got at least 60-70 per cent possession.
“In England, there’s more defending to be done, but I’m enjoying it.
“The regular involvement has prepared me for this week.
“I like to play as many games as I can and I always feel my best when I’m playing games.
“The fitter you are, the better it’s going to be for you. I feel I’ve improved since I’ve been at Blackburn. It has opened my eyes a bit.
“While I’ve been down south before at Wolves, I didn’t play as much as I have recently.
“I feel more prepared now and that I’m a better player, more experienced.
“It’s a more demanding league. Every game is genuinely 50-50. It’s an interesting league and good to be involved in.”
Mulgrew, who is in Gordon Strachan’s Scotland squad for the games against Canada and Slovenia, said: “I’ve played mostly in the centre of defence this season.
“I spoke to the manager about that because he likes to play football from the back and that suits me.
“I’m happy to play wherever I’m needed, but I probably prefer centre-half or midfield.”
Many critics have already written off Scotland’s World Cup qualifying hopes, but Mulgrew wants to prove them wrong.
He added: “That’s typical, people just want to be negative – they build it up and then they just want to get on the negative.
“That’s something we need to deal with.
“The most important thing is the game against Slovenia on Sunday.