Ross County co-manager Stuart Kettlewell has set the club’s young players the challenge of breaking into the Staggies’ starting line-up this season.
Among the players signed up for County’s forthcoming campaign are midfielders Dylan Dykes and Russell Dingwall, and attacker Greg Morrison, who were part of Kettlewell’s Development League title winning side in 2017.
The Staggies have also retained Tony Dingwall, the brother of Russell, who did not feature for his hometown club last season after recovering from a seven-month cruciate ligament absence. The 23-year-old spending a month on loan with League 2 side Elgin City last November.
Kettlewell insists the quartet are not simply there to make up the numbers, and he said: “We have obviously identified a couple of younger players and they all bring different qualities – a couple of them in different circumstances.
“Tony Dingwall has played around 50 games for the club in the Premiership is getting another opportunity off the back of his injury, and being part of such a big squad we had last season. It made it very difficult for him to get opportunities.
“Dylan Dykes is one who has been out on loan, and he’s one who Steven Ferguson and I genuinely believe can be great value to the football club. He’s just such a natural central midfield player, and a great lad as well which is what we are after.
“We have spoken to these younger guys, and they are now part of our first team squad, they will be a part of everything. The opportunity has been handed to them to get on to the bench first and foremost, and then try and break into our starting 11.”
Kettlewell insists no player will be assured of a place in the Staggies’ side, and he added: “Everybody knows myself and Steven’s philosophy, and what we want to try and do.
“We made it clear when we came in that we were never just going to be handing players a jersey and just letting them go and play.
“They have to go and earn that and show they can be a part of our group and have a value on the pitch when it comes to a task in hand.”
County will face Highland League side Wick Academy in a pre-season friendly at Harmsworth Park on Saturday, June 30, with a 1pm kick-off. The match comes just two days before the Staggies travel to their five-day training camp in Wageningen, Holland.