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Stuart Kettlewell calls on Ross County players to show more confidence

Celtic v Ross County – Pre-Season Friendly – Celtic Park
(Image credit: Jeff Holmes)

Ross County manager Stuart Kettlewell has told his players to at least make sure they improve their standards and feel better about themselves after Sunday’s game against Celtic.

Kettlewell declared last weekend’s 3-1 defeat against 10-man Kilmarnock as one of the worst experiences in his 12 years in Dingwall as player and coach.

After a promising start to the season, County have not won in seven league games.

They face holders Celtic in the Betfred Cup next but Kettlewell was at the club during two cup wins over the Hoops and has told his players to see the second-round tie as an opportunity.

“We have got a good cup history in the last 10 or 11 years, we have tended to do pretty well over the years,” he said.

“So, nobody expects us to win the game, but I believe it’s a brilliant opportunity to go and upset the odds.

“Taking the result out of the equation, we need to improve our standards and performance. We are never going to get a result without improving our standards on the pitch.

“If we do that, I believe we can make our supporters pretty buoyant about what we are doing and make ourselves feel better, as opposed to coming away felling really, really low. You feel as low as a snake’s belly after the game last Saturday, we all do. But we have to go and try and make that right.

“Irrespective of it being Celtic at Parkhead, and we know how difficult it will be, I believe it’s an opportunity for us to try and improve.”

With experienced players such as Michael Gardyne, Carl Tremarco and Ross Draper injured, County’s starting line-up at Rugby Park had an average age of 22.

Although Iain Vigurs returns from suspension, Kettlewell will have to go with another youthful side, and he has told his young players to grasp their opportunity.

“I have said often enough that I’m more than happy to play young players but we need to see that leadership, we need to see that ability to deal with adverse situations which we faced on Saturday,” he said.

“We can’t shrink, we can’t hide behind someone else. That’s part of the learning curve for them.

“If I believe they are good enough to play in the team, it’s not just on ability, it’s on that emotional intelligence that they can deal with whatever situation is presented to them.

“We definitely need to pick some of the younger ones up and make sure they are braced and prepared for Celtic Park but, we are going to Celtic Park, there shouldn’t be too much motivation required. You should be able to enjoy that experience at any time.”