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Stuart Kettlewell says he’s been blown away by fitness of Ross County players on return to training

Kettlewell took sole charge of County this summer
Kettlewell took sole charge of County this summer

Ross County manager Stuart Kettlewell admits he has been blown away by the fitness levels of his players.

The Staggies and champions Celtic were the first Scottish Premiership clubs to return to training on Thursday.

It was the first time Kettlewell was able to work with his players on the training pitch since Scottish football shut down in March, but the County boss has been pleasantly surprised by how well his players have kept in shape during lockdown.

He said: “We have seen that hunger from the players to get back on the training pitch.

“Thirteen weeks is a really long time for football players to not have a routine.

“We have been blown away by the condition the players have come back in.

“I think there has been a lot of different competitions going on with 5K runs and high-intensity interval training sessions online.

“With the players on furlough it was difficult to give them information, but they are so well educated that they know how to take care of themselves to make sure they are in the correct condition to play football all year round rather than just the seasonal period of the league campaign.

“It is a bit of a change from even when I was a player when you would see the same guys bulking up and having to lose two or three stone when they came back for pre-season.”

The Staggies manager has been forced to split his squad into two groups to maintain the social-distancing protocols.

He said: “It has been long days. Myself and the guys were in at 7 o’clock in the morning to set the sessions up.

“We are doing two sessions over the course of the day.

“It has been really positive and good to get back out on the grass.

“It is good to see everyone communicating from two metres apart and I feel everything has gone really well for us over the first couple of days.

“We have been able to take some huge positives.

“We are working with groups of eight or nine players at the time and we are fortunate with the training facilities we have that we can do that.

“We don’t want to sound like school teachers, but anybody that doesn’t adhere to the rules just won’t be allowed on the training pitch. There has been no messing around as the guys have been desperate to get back to their trade.”

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