Ross County co-manager Steven Ferguson insists the Staggies’ squad rotation for the IRN-BRU Cup is not a sign they are treating the competition lightly.
County have rung the changes for their four ties against Hearts colts, Raith Rovers, Montrose and Motherwell colts so far, and are likely to do so again for tonight’s semi final at home to League 1 club East Fife, with goalkeeper Ross Munro and defender Tom Grivosti among those who could feature.
Ferguson says the competition has allowed County to shuffle their squad during a busy schedule, but he insists he and fellow co-manager Stuart Kettlewell, who is banned from the dugout for tonight’s game, are eager to win the tournament.
Ferguson said: “Stuart and I have not underestimated this competition from the start. We said that if we were in the competition, we were in it to win it.
“We have managed to include young players in this environment, a lot of young players have made their debut this season playing in this competition.
“Some guys haven’t had the game time they would have liked, and they’re wanting an opportunity to stake a claim.
“They will be given that chance, and it’s down to them how the performance on the day is.
“It’s an opportunity to show not only Stuart and I, but also supporters what they are capable of, and the fact they are dying to get involved in the next game.
“It’s a competition we have said we would like to win, and nothing has changed from that.
“The fact we find ourselves in a semi final makes it that bit closer, with the chance to play in a national cup final.
“For young players, or older players, it’s an opportunity to win a bit of silverware.
“People can underestimate it or write it off, but the way we have treated it is with the respect we feel it deserves.”
County are three points clear at the top of the Championship, and can progress to the last eight of the Scottish Cup by winning Tuesday’s fifth round replay away to Caley Thistle, however Ferguson is excited by the prospect of he and Kettlewell securing their first silverware as a management team.
Should the Staggies progress tonight, they will face either Connah’s Quay Nomads or Edinburgh City in the final on the weekend of March 23/24, and Ferguson added: “I didn’t have a good run in this competition as a player. I would love to win it.
“Myself and Stuart are both winners. We both want to be involved in something that’s a success, and this is an opportunity.
“If we could choose, of course we want to get promoted to the Premiership, and of course we want to progress in the Scottish Cup.
“But do we want to win this Challenge Cup? Of course. It’s the same across the board – we see it as an opportunity for our football club to lift another trophy, and for our players to be involved in a successful team and cup campaign.”