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John Hughes warns Ross County’s job is far from done in bid to avoid relegation play-off

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

Ross County manager John Hughes has warned his players their work is not yet done as they look to clinch Premiership safety at Motherwell tomorrow.

The Staggies are firmly in control of their own fate after their 2-1 win over Hamilton Accies in midweek moved them three points clear of Kilmarnock, meaning they need just a point at Fir Park to avoid the relegation play-off.

County could still be leapfrogged if they lose to Well and Killie defeat Accies, however, with the Rugby Park outfit having a vastly superior goal difference.

Ross County manager John Hughes.

Hughes, who will be in the stand to serve the final game of a two-match touchline ban, says his players cannot afford to take the shackles off.

He said: “A lot of the boys at Ross County have had the experience of fighting relegation. That’s what it is up here.

“All credit to them – but we have done nothing yet.

“We have to make sure we go down to Motherwell and we are at it.

“If not, we will come unstuck, get our backsides felt and the points will stay in Motherwell.

“We need to be at our best to beat a good Motherwell team.

“If anyone is mentally thinking the job is done then they shouldn’t be putting the strip on – you owe that to your team-mates.”

John Hughes led Falkirk to safety in 2009.

Hughes has previous experience of succeeding in a top-flight relegation battle, having led Falkirk to a final day 1-0 win over Caley Thistle which relegated the Highlanders in 2009.

Although Accies, who are all but relegated, could do County a favour by taking points from Killie, Hughes has urged his side to take matters into their own hands by securing the result they need in Lanarkshire.

He added: “We are going to win the football match. We don’t want any favours.

“You can talk about the sporting integrity of teams who play weakened sides, but we want to go there and do it for ourselves.

“We are totally focused on what we have to do – we want to go there and win the match.

“These kinds of games have to inspire us, we have to be right up for it.”

Although County defeated Motherwell 1-0 at home on the opening day of the season, the Steelmen hold the upper hand between the sides having gone on to record a 4-0 triumph in October, prior to a 2-1 victory in January.

Hughes, who has injury doubts over defenders Leo Hjelde and Alex Iacovitti, hopes to reverse that trend against Graham Alexander’s side, who are aiming to clinch seventh place.

Hughes added: “Motherwell are a right good side. We have played them once since I came in and they beat us 2-1.

“I’m really impressed with the job that is going on at Motherwell under Graham – outside the Old Firm they are one of the teams to have picked up the most points.

“I have known Graham for a few years now and he has done a great job.

“They are at home and they will want to finish on a high.

“It’s a difficult venue to go to but it’s in our own hands. We want to go and put a show on.

“It’s going to be difficult, but we are more than capable.”

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