Alex Schalk believes Ross County’s caretaker management team of Stuart Kettlewell and Steven Ferguson should be given the job permanently if the pair steer the club to Premiership safety.
The Dutch striker, a hat-trick hero in Tuesday’s win against Partick, described how Kettlewell and Ferguson had revived and transformed a dressing room left demoralised by Owen Coyle’s disastrous spell in charge.
Coyle resigned in early March only five months after succeeding sacked Jim McIntyre, leaving County three points adrift in the table after just four wins in 21 matches.
County’s 4-0 victory against the Maryhill club in midweek took them off the foot of the table for the first time in 2018.
Kettlewell, 33, steered County’s under-20s team past Celtic to the SPFL Development League title last season, while Ferguson, 40, is the highly-respected head of the club’s youth academy.
Neither coach has indicated publicly wanting to become Coyle’s permanent successor.
Schalk, though – fired with belief after Tuesday’s win – is convinced the pair would be the right men.
The 25-year-old said: “They have been here for years, so they know the players inside-out.
“I think the team bonding is better now. They put the players in good positions and we feel like we’ve got a plan now.
“The way we go about it is a bit more like we’re playing for the team. There’s no ‘I’ in team and that’s an important lesson they give us going out on to the pitch.
“It’s hard for them – they’re young mana- gers getting the chance to step in and lead the club to safety. As they’ve been here a while, they want to give something back.
“As players, we’d go to hell and back for them. Before anything is decided, we need to concentrate on these last few games and get ourselves to safety.
“It’s not up to me but I think they would then more than deserve to get the job.”
Schalk, now linking superbly in attack with former Caley Thistle frontman Billy Mckay, claimed his first hat-trick in Scottish football and set up Ross Draper’s crucial second goal as County secured not only a vital three points but a goal difference advantage of 11 over the Jags.
The Dutchman said: “It was a massive win for us, so important psychologically.”
l County have parted company with winger Chris Eagles.
The 32-year-old became Coyle’s first signing when he joined in November. He made just nine appear- ances, however, and has not featured since January.