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John Hughes calls for Ross County to get on front foot in effort to unlock St Mirren

Ross County manager John Hughes.
Ross County manager John Hughes.

Ross County manager John Hughes has called for his side to show courage on the ball to unlock St Mirren in today’s Premiership encounter.

The Staggies are looking to build on Sunday’s superb 1-0 victory over Celtic at Victoria Park, and make the trip to Paisley looking to record back-to-back league wins for the first time since August.

County were forced to defend against the Parkhead side for large spells, in a match in which the Hoops had 74% of possession, however, Hughes feels a more front foot performance will be required against Jim Goodwin’s Buddies.

Hughes said: “If you can beat teams in the top four, you should be able.

“I’m just wondering if there’s a mental, psychological and tactical thing that happens, and when we sit in more it suits us.

“When we’re trying to get on the ball and take the game to the other team, it maybe leaves us a bit vulnerable.

“That’s what we have to do. We have to sit down and look at that, and come up with the shape that works best for us.

“I always want the ball. I want my players to express themselves, trust each other and play with courage.

“No matter who we are playing against, I’m hoping that’s the case. I’ve seen improvement from these guys in everything we are doing.

“The Celtic result has put us in a right good place and there’s a good spirit among them.

“We need to start beating teams around us. Although St Mirren are having a great season, we are more than capable of going there and getting a result.”

The victory over Celtic moved County out of the relegation places into 10th, but with two points separating them from bottom spot Hughes is urging his side not to undo their good work.

He added: “The Celtic game is a bonus, it goes for nothing if we don’t do the business against St Mirren.

“They are a team that is flying high. We know how difficult it will be.

“They beat us at home in my second game here, and we got two men sent off. It was a poor performance from the referee that day, but that’s part and parcel of football.

“I’m hoping we can go there on the back of the Celtic performance and keep those same levels.

“We can’t get too far in front of ourselves, but hopefully we can pick up a win.”

Vice-captain Callum Morris is likely to miss today’s game after picking up a hamstring injury, however, Hughes was thrilled with the impact made by his replacement Keith Watson, who could be handed his chance from the start.

Keith Watson (right) battles with Celtic midfielder Ryan Christie.

Hughes added: “We will get Callum Morris scanned. It was his hamstring he came off with against Celtic.

“It has died down over the last few days. It’s low down the back of his knee ,which is hopefully a good thing and he will not be out for too long.

“Whoever goes out, somebody else comes in and Keith Watson came in.

“He’s a guy that any manager would want at his football club. He was probably my best player when I first came in, he found himself left out of the team, which was maybe a little bit unfair.

“He never moaned, he got his head down and gives it everything he’s got in training.

“When he’s sitting on the substitutes’ bench he’s encouraging his team-mates around the dressing room.

“He’s in great shape with his body fat and fitness levels. He came on for Callum and played his part.

“That kind of attitude and professionalism is going to give us the chance to keep us in the Premiership. There are so many more of them, but I thought he was different class when he came on.”

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