Ross County co-manager Steven Ferguson says Michael Gardyne’s match-winning impact from the bench against Dunfermline on Saturday underlines the importance of the Staggies’ squad effort.
Gardyne’s half-time introduction helped to inspire a fine turnaround from the Staggies, with the winger netting the decisive goal in the 2-1 victory at East End Park which keeps the Dingwall men three points clear at the top of the league.
With the likes of Josh Mullin and new signing Daniel Armstrong among County’s unused substitutes, Ferguson insists rotation will be key in the coming weeks, with the Staggies still competing on three domestic fronts.
Ferguson feels Gardyne’s latest substitute performance should serve as an example to his team-mates, and he said: “Everybody knows that’s what Michael is capable of. When he’s on song he’s a different level. It has been a bit stop-start because he started the season so well before he picked up that broken foot.
“He was ill a couple of weeks ago, and we got a professional performance at home to Alloa a couple of weeks ago and decided to stick with the group of players that did well in that game.
“One of the really pleasing things for us is we know we’ve got those types of substitutes that can change the game. Michael got the nod on Saturday, but that could easily have been Josh Mullin, Daniel Armstrong or Ross Stewart.
“Michael stepped up to the plate and his goal was a great finish but we spoke to the players during the week to reiterate how important the squad is until the end of this season.
“It’s not going to be about individuals, it’s going to be about the collective group.
“We appreciate we’ve got so much football to be played, and so many tough games ahead. With the window being shut now everybody knows that’s the group of players we have until the end of the season.
“We are delighted with the group of players we have and they need to be aware that every one of them will be needed and used between now and the end of the season.”
Gardyne is one of several Staggies players who has previously won the Championship title, having helped County win promotion to the top-flight for the first time in 2012 before leaving to join Dundee United.
Ferguson hopes County’s older heads can help some of the less experienced players in the club’s title pursuit, adding: “It’s important we have a blend between guys that have been over the course, who know and understand what it takes to win a league.
“We want to merge that with guys that have not, but who have that energy and excitement of that challenge for the first time.
“We feel we have got that balance. We had four new players on the pitch on Saturday, which is what we needed if you looked at our group.
“We are experienced enough and have the know-how to be able to deal with personnel changes.”