Ross County co-manager Stuart Kettlewell insists a repeat of Saturday’s performance against Ayr United will leave the Staggies vulnerable to Hearts’ high-intensity approach in tomorrow’s Premiership encounter.
County went down 1-0 against Championship side Ayr at Somerset Park to exit the Scottish Cup at the weekend, prompting Kettlewell to criticise his players’ body language and approach to the tie.
The Staggies return to league action when they host the bottom-of-the-table Jambos tomorrow, following the three-week winter break.
New Hearts manager Daniel Stendel secured his first win in charge of the Tynecastle club in Saturday’s 5-0 cup victory over Aidrieonians, with the German keen to implement a high pressing style.
Kettlewell has warned his side must show a marked improvement and said: “Hearts are obviously desperate for points – as are we. Everybody finds themselves in the same position, we’ve all got something to play for.
“I’m pretty sure Hearts will watch that game and think they can get at us.
“There has been a lot of mention about how the new manager has come in and wants to press – they will give us problems if we go about our business like we did on Saturday.
“We have to make sure we rectify that in the next couple of days.
“The players have been told in no uncertain terms that is not acceptable.
“It was a sore one for us to take as the one thing we pride ourselves on is having a hunger and desire to compete in any game we play.”
The loss to Ayr marked a bitterly disappointing start to 2020 for the Staggies, and Kettlewell is demanding a strong reaction, with the Dingwall men eighth in the Premiership but only three points above the relegation play-off spot.
Kettlewell added: “It needs to be a wake up call – because we are not going to accept that. There is absolutely no way.
“It was miles off what we expect and what we have seen in nearly two years we have been doing this job.
“We may fall short with our quality but we are not going to fall short with our commitment, that’s for sure.
“We are definitely not going to be able to strut around games in the Premiership and go through the motions.
“When you are playing against teams with bigger budgets and better quality – international players for example – you give yourselves a massive problem.”