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Ross County boss John Hughes has no issue with Dundee United resting players

John Hughes file photo
(Image credit: Jeff Holmes)

Ross County manager John Hughes had no qualms with Dundee United resting players against their relegation rivals.

And the Dingwall boss will focus on the fundamentals of football rather than the make-up of their opponents ahead of their trip to Tannadice.

County fell into the Scottish Premiership play-off position last week after losing 3-1 at home to St Mirren while a much-changed United team lost 3-0 against Kilmarnock.

Micky Mellon handed first starts to 16-year-old defender Kerr Smith and 20-year-old midfielder Florent Hoti while making seven changes ahead of their Scottish Cup quarter-final against Aberdeen.

Mellon had no regrets even before United won 3-0 at Pittodrie and changes could be afoot for Saturday’s league clash with their semi-final against Hibernian coming seven days later.

“That wouldn’t really bother me because, if you want to stay in this league, you have to earn it,” Hughes said.

“Dundee United are entitled to do what they want. They have some wonderful kids coming through and I understand it.

“I have to concentrate on what we are doing at Ross County and we will prepare for the Dundee United team that won at Aberdeen on Sunday. They were very, very impressive, and we are going to have to be at our best.”

Hughes bemoaned his team’s defending after their latest defeat. County have conceded 14 goals in their past six matches and their only clean sheet in 2021 has come against Celtic.

Hughes said: “You don’t have to try too hard to score a goal against us because we don’t defend from the front, we don’t get over and help our team-mate out and, when a ball comes into the box, it’s the basic fundamentals, you have to go and head it.

“You head it, you clear your lines, whatever the game demands. Playing against an opponent, the two of you should be going hammer and tongs at each other.

“We are just coming a wee bit unstuck at the moment. When we are doing all that stuff, nine times out of 10 we win the game.

“Unfortunately it’s inconsistent. Sometimes it has been very good first half, poor second half. We need that consistency of the fundamentals of football.

“We need everyone understanding exactly what their job is, no grey areas, that simplicity in football, don’t over-think it. And that’s what we have been trying to do.

“I keep saying to the players, ‘don’t over-think it, we have all been doing it since we were five or six years old. It doesn’t change’.

“We have to be more resolute in the way we go about our business.”

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