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Stuart Kettlewell says Ross County criticism was ‘completely out of proportion’

Celtic v Ross County – Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership – Celtic Park
(Image credit: Steve Welsh)

Stuart Kettlewell has praised his players for shooting back at Ross County’s media “assassins”.

The Dingwall side found themselves in the firing line on the back of five games without a win.

The volley of stick only increased after the Staggies were pulled apart by Celtic’s high-calibre frontline in a 5-0 mauling a fortnight ago.

But County boss Kettlewell reckons that criticism was over the top and hailed his men for using the flak as inspiration for last week’s resolute shut-out in a 1-0 win away to St Johnstone.

Asked if it was a relief to get back on track at McDiarmid, Kettlewell – whose side welcome Aberdeen to the Global Energy Stadium on Sunday – said: “You guys in the media probably make a bigger situation of it than we do.

“I want to win every single game.

“It was great to get a win in Perth, as it always is in the Premiership and we know we’re coming into a tough run of games.

“It gives you that little added boost and confidence ahead of facing Aberdeen.

“But I wasn’t too despondent about what we were doing and individual performances.

“I think we’ve been assassinated for our defensive displays. We know we’ve conceded five goals to Celtic and I’m not saying that’s acceptable but outwith that the picture that has been painted on occasion has been completely out of proportion if we’re being fair over eight games.

“I think you could see on Saturday that out entire group had let that get under their skin a wee bit and they ended up defending their box manfully.”

The Dons face another lengthy journey across the Grampians and into the Highlands for this weekend’s showdown, having returned back from Portugal on Friday.

Derek McInnes’ team lost narrowly to Sporting Lisbon as they crashed out of the Europa League but Kettlewell is not counting on the Reds being fatigued.

The County boss – who is closing in on a deal for Waterford United striker Michael O’Connor – said: “I’ve heard one or two guys, including Joe Lewis, say it’s as strong a squad as they’ve had since they joined the football club and I don’t think anyone could argue with that.

“If you go right through their ranks they are strong, with real good players in their team.

“I wouldn’t be surprised to see four, five or even six changes to their team because they have good strength and depth and can bring in good quality.

“I’m not going to second guess what Derek’s going to do but I do think he has the capabilities to freshen things up.”