Ross County co-manager Stuart Kettlewell has challenged the Staggies’ players to show they are up to the task of competing at Parkhead when they face Celtic tomorrow.
County take on the Premiership champions for the first time since winning promotion back to the top flight, in their first trip to Glasgow’s east end since they went down 3-0 in Kettlewell and Steven Ferguson’s third game in charge in March 2018.
Although County have some Premiership newcomers among their ranks, much of their squad is familiar with the experience of facing the Hoops on their own patch.
Although Kettlewell insists the Staggies’ performance tomorrow will not determine their season, he wants his players to rise to the test of mettle.
Kettlewell said: “From us as a group, we see it as a learning tool. We will get to come away and strip pieces apart, to see what our successes and failures have been during the 90 minutes. We will get to see what worked and what didn’t.
“It will be an experience for some players to go and play at a venue like that for the first time, while others have done it several times but will see whether they are still up to that level which we genuinely believe they are.
“We know our players and what they do every single day. We have watched them often enough in games, it must be in the region of 70 or so games Steven and I have taken charge of.
“We start to get to know people and we know what their strengths and weaknesses are.
“We are not going to be judged on what happens on Saturday. Nobody is going to turn around and think Ross County are good, bad or indifferent on the back of whatever happens at Parkhead on Saturday.
“Nobody will be able to tell us where we are going to finish at the end of the season off the back of what happens on Saturday.”
Celtic go into the game looking to bounce back from their 2-0 defeat to Livingston prior to the international break, but Kettlewell insists the winning instincts will not be lost on Neil Lennon’s men.
He added: “Celtic are off the back of a draw and a defeat, so we probably find ourselves playing against them at a really unusual time in the last three years or so.
“We have got to enjoy that challenge. We are playing against a team that is used to winning every single week, and winning trophies.
“That in itself tells us the preparation, and dealing with the occasion, is key. We are playing against serial winners – guys who win all the time.
“If you find that habit of winning games it’s very hard to break the cycle. We probably found that last year ourselves, at a different level of course, and I have experienced it as a player.
“We went 40 games unbeaten in our season we won the First Division when I was a player. You turn up on a Saturday and you have that aura and confidence about you, that you know how to win a game of football.”