Ross County have promoted seven members of last year’s Development League title-winning squad to the first team for the new campaign.
The Staggies returned to pre-season training yesterday with all seven joining Jim McIntyre’s senior squad for the first time.
Goalkeeper Mark Foden, defenders Reghan Tumilty and Blair Malcolm, midfielders Russell Dingwall, Dylan Dykes and Davis Keillor-Dunn, and attacker Greg Morrison have made the progression from Stuart Kettlewell’s under-20s side.
McIntyre has set the target of breaking into his team and said: “They have been promoted and it’s up to them to try to stay there. They have got to raise their standards and they are all fully aware of that. It’s the chance for them.
“It was really pleasing for them last year we managed to get two or three of them on the pitch and into the first team. Now the challenge is the biggest they have faced and it’s to try to get a regular place.
“I’ve been very pleased with their progress over the last year or so, and now is the bit where they really need to push on.”
County will begin their Premiership campaign with an away match against Dundee on August 5. Before then the Staggies will aim to progress through the group stage of the Betfred Cup, which begins with a home match against Alloa Athletic on July 15.
County were eliminated at the group stage last term in a dire defence of the trophy while McIntyre has already arranged friendlies against Elgin City and St Mirren and is awaiting confirmation of two friendly matches during next month’s pre-season trip to La Manga.
He is eager to ensure his side is better prepared this time around and said: “We will be ready for the Betfred Cup. We’ve taken an extra game in pre-season this year, to be sharper than we were last season.
“We’ve still got to make sure we do the right things and win the games.
“It’s always good to get back into our work after the break. The four weeks have gone past quite quickly, but everybody has enjoyed their time off and is ready to work again.
“The players have reported back in good condition which I fully expected. Now it’s just about building up and sharpening up our fitness levels and getting ready for the games.”