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Ross County boss John Hughes insists relegation pressure is on Kilmarnock

Ross County manager John Hughes
Ross County manager John Hughes

Ross County manager John Hughes insists all the pressure is on Kilmarnock as his side prepare for Saturday’s vital Premiership encounter at Rugby Park.

The Staggies are 10th in the division, one point clear of their 11th-placed opponents and two ahead of bottom club Hamilton Accies.

With five matches of the season remaining, a tense finale looms for the three clubs. But, with his side having the chance to give themselves valuable breathing space with victory this weekend, Hughes believes it is Tommy Wright’s Killie who will be feeling the strain.

He said: “At this time of the season there’s so much to play for, there is trepidation and excitement.

“I think going to Kilmarnock all the pressure is on them – they’re the home team. The expectation is on them to win, that’s what being at home does and they’ll have to handle that.

“The expectation makes you want to have a go, that’s what it does to us at home as well.”

For the Staggies and Accies, this is familiar territory. The same cannot be said for Kilmarnock, the third club deep in the relegation mire, whose top-flight status has not been at risk in recent campaigns.

Hughes led County to victory against Kilmarnock last month, but the Staggies boss is expecting a very different challenge this weekend.

Ross County’s Billy McKay scores his second goal against Kilmarnock last month.

He said:  “We have beaten Kilmarnock this season, but I don’t think that gives us any advantage because they are probably a different animal now.

“We maybe caught them cold that day and they’re now scoring goals.

“I respect them, they have good players and one hundred percent they have underachieved this season with the budget they’ve got.

“But that sometimes happens in football.

“All I can ask is for my lads to be at their best and see what happens.

“It’s a cup final this weekend, that’s what it’s been like for the last ten games because it’s all to play for.

“We can do it because we have beaten them before, but it’s a different challenge now.

“They are scoring goals and I think they are in a false position. It will either go our way or take it further away from us.

“The boys are up for it, I’ve had a fantastic reaction from them in training and there is a real positivity there among them.”

Hughes expects his side to be along similar lines to the team which lost 3-1 to Caley Thistle in the Scottish Cup on Friday, but Connor Randall is expected to return to first team training next week.

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