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Stuart Kettlewell happy for Ross County players to go on international duty

Stuart Kettlewell File Photo
(Image credit: Jane Barlow)

Stuart Kettlewell insists he will not be slamming the international door shut on his young Scotland hopefuls having spent so long trying to bang it down.

The Ross County boss will be without Josh Reid for Saturday’s Premiership visit of Hibernian after the full-back came into close contact with Scotland Under-19s boss Billy Stark last week.

Stark’s side were forced to halt a friendly with England at St George’s Park at half-time after the coach discovered he had tested positive for coronavirus – with his entire squad then forced to self-isolate.

Celtic have already voiced their own frustration after seeing three players contract Covid-19 and a fourth told to quarantine ahead of Saturday’s Old Firm game, with sections of the Hoops support calling for their players to be withdrawn from international duty.

But Kettlewell has spent long enough calling for his Dingwall youngsters to be handed Scotland recognition and is not ready to pull Reid out now that the 18-year-old has been given his big chance.

He said: “I think it’s a bit premature for us to say we won’t be sending players away on international duty.

“It should be a privilege to play for your country at any age group and we’ve actually been chapping for Josh to get some kind of recognition.

“I sometimes get on my high horse because I feel our younger guys maybe miss out on those opportunities, maybe because logistically they won’t be monitored as much.

“So when the opportunity for Josh to go away with the 19s came, I was first to tell him I was delighted for him.

“So it’s very early for me to say I wouldn’t send Josh away or Stephen Kelly and Ross Doohan away with the 21s. If we go into the next couple of camps and there are major issues then maybe collectively as clubs we come together and assess the situation – but not yet.”

However, Kettlewell is frustrated by rules that now mean Reid is forced to self-isolate for 14 days despite having returned three negative tests since returning to the Highlands.

But he said: “It’s a really hard one as there are people far more educated in this field than I am but from a football point of view it is frustrating.

“I’m not out there actively grumping and groaning as there are other clubs who have been in similar situations, if not worse.

“It is something we just have to deal with until we know more about the virus and it’s incubation period. While there are so many unknowns I get the hard-line approach.”

County face a Hibs team this weekend containing new Scotland call-ups Paul Hanlon, Paul McGinn and Ryan Porteous.

And Kettlewell said: “I’ve just read Steve Clarke saying that everybody in that provincial club category should be ready to offer some help to the national team for next month’s Euro 2020 play-off against Serbia and I think that’s a brilliant message.

“Perhaps some guys thought that opportunity was way in the distance but Steve has made it clear by calling up guys like Andy Considine, Paul Hanlon, Paul McGinn and Ryan Porteous that we don’t have to look to English Premier League players or guys in the Championship before you’ll get a call-up for your country.

“If that doesn’t give players some hope that it’s a distinct possibility, then I don’t know what does.”