Ross County midfielder Harry Paton insists the Staggies must earn the right to play by showing more desire when they face Celtic in tomorrow’s Betfred Cup tie.
County make the trip to Parkhead with last weekend’s humbling 3-1 defeat to Kilmarnock still fresh in the mind, with their opponents having played 82 minutes of the match with 10 men.
Staggies manager Stuart Kettlewell did not spare his side criticism after a seventh straight Premiership match without victory, describing the Rugby Park defeat as one of his worst results since initially joining the Dingwall club as a player in 2009.
County’s attention now turns to League Cup action, with a difficult tie against the Hoops standing in their way of a quarter-final place.
Canadian Paton hopes his side can show a strong reaction following a mentally challenging week of reflection.
He said: “Personally, it has been tough.
“Part of the game is the mentality side. You need to keep moving forward.
“You are going to have bad days and last week was a bad week.
“We just need to work hard, bounce back and look forward to the next game.
“Desire is the baseline for every game you play – it is a competitive game and you need that to pick up points.
“That is where we should start and after that we can start to look at our passing and chances created. We need that desire from the whole team.”
Paton says a detailed analysis of the team’s shortcomings against Killie has shown where County need to improve, however, he remains confident in the ability of Kettlewell’s squad to turn the form around.
The 22-year-old added: “We went over the video and the bad points in the game. The boys all knew it wasn’t good enough on the day.
“I have looked over the game individually at things that have worked and other things that didn’t.
“We also went over it from the defence to the midfield three and the strikers.
“With Killie going down to 10 men, it was a change because we needed to work on the football side more. We got a bit confused because we showed against Livingston we have got the other side to our game. I think the balance will come.
“The whole team can do better and we will be looking to sort things over the weekend.”
Celtic are also looking to return to winning ways, with the Hoops going into tomorrow’s tie on a run of two wins from their last nine matches following Thursday’s 4-1 Europa League defeat to Sparta Prague.
The result has piled further pressure on manager Neil Lennon and, despite acknowledging the quality of the Hoops’ squad, Paton is determined to rise to the occasion in Glasgow.
Paton added: “I always personally look forward to the Celtic games because it’s a chance to play against the top players in Scotland. I want to try and prove what I can do against them.
“In games like this you have to be better than the guy you are up against.
“You need to take that into every game and I know if I am better than the other guy I am playing against then that will give the other boys a lift. We will go there and give it a go for sure.
“We are not favourites to win the game, we are away from home, but it is one of the biggest games we look forward to playing.
“As a team it’s a great opportunity for us to show we can compete against them and try to get through this stage.”