Ross County: Slimline Liam Boyce wants to weigh in with more goals

Liam Boyce says losing two stones since joining Ross County has helped him weigh in with the goals that could pull his side clear of relegation trouble.

The 24-year-old scored a hat-trick in Monday's 3-0 win over St Mirren to ensure that the Dingwall outfit cannot now finish bottom of the table.

"When I came, I was overweight from the part-time football and stuff," said the summer signing from Cliftonville.

"And now we've got a sports scientist in and changed my whole body shape."

Scoring County's first hat-trick in top-flight football took the Northern Irishman's total to four in two games and eight overall for the season.

Boyce revealed that, in addition to extra training, he had received advice about healthy eating.

"It has been a drastic change and I've lost something like two stone since I first came and I can feel the benefits now when I'm playing," he told BBC Scotland.

Liam Boyce arrives at Victoria Park last summer
Liam Boyce was signed by previous County manager Derek Adams last summer

"Back in Ireland, I was only training twice a week and I wasn't eating too bad, but I couldn't get motivated to go to the gym myself."

Boyce admits that the start of the season had been frustrating for him as he struggled in front of goal.

"I'm way, way sharper on the pitch," he said. "At the start of the season, I was picking times to play because I couldn't do it for the whole 90 minutes.

"Now I can try things every time I touch the ball and it seems to be coming off."

Boyce had trials with Celtic before eventually signing for Werder Bremen after winning the Northern Ireland Football Writers' Player of the Year Award for season 2009-10 in his first spell with Cliftonville.

He now admits that he felt the pressure of such high expectations as he failed to make the grade with the German Bundesliga club's B team.

"You can get big-headed," said Boyce, who also had a trial with Kilmarnock in 2011. "It had an effect when I was in Germany and I thought I was better than I was.

Liam Boyce in action for Northern Ireland in 2011
Liam Boyce is hoping his goals will lead to a Northern Ireland recall

"When I went to Germany, the first year was good and then the second year I wasn't playing and it was a reality check.

"I went back to Cliftonville, I got my confidence back, scored a lot of goals and winning the player of the year gave me the confidence to come here and do well."

Boyce thanked County manager Jim McIntyre and assistant Billy Dodds for sticking by him when he was not scoring and hopes his form might lead to a fifth cap for Northern Ireland.

"It is an honour to play at the highest level and I would love to get more caps," he said.

Boyce was signed for County by Derek Adams, but it is under successor McIntyre that their side eventually moved off the bottom of the Scottish Premiership table.

"It is unbelievable," added the striker, while stressing that they could still be involved in a relegation play-off.

"We were six points adrift of St Mirren and now we're 16 clear.

"Taking 25 points from 27 is championship form, but we're not getting too far ahead of ourselves as we're still not mathematically safe and we've got a big couple of weeks coming up."