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Duncan Shearer: What now for Ross County following John Hughes’ departure?

John Hughes has left Ross County.
John Hughes has left Ross County.

John Hughes’ decision to walk away from Ross County has come as a huge shock – I know I am certainly surprised to learn of his departure from Victoria Park.

When I heard Ross Laidlaw had signed a new contract with the club at the weekend, I put two and two together and reached the conclusion it must surely have meant John was going to be staying on at the club after keeping County in the Premiership.

But yesterday’s shock announcement just goes to show you can take nothing for granted in this game and I’ll be sad to see Yogi depart.

He has done a terrific job in difficult circumstances and to not only avoid finishing bottom, but also the play-off spot is no mean feat when you consider they were deep in the mire when he arrived.

I am sure County fans are still processing the fact he has left the club, but the big question is where does chairman Roy MacGregor go from here?

I don’t have a long list of candidates coming to mind at this point. I wonder if we could see the club make an attempt to lure Derek Adams back for a third spell, but – given he is off to Wembley with Morecambe – he may see his future in England.

Many people see Don Cowie as a manager in waiting down the line, but I wonder if this opportunity has come too soon, especially when you consider Stuart Kettlewell was in the dugout at the start of the season.

My instinct is that an experienced pair of hands will be what the chairman wants and it will be fascinating to see who he goes for.

This might all be coming too soon for Don Cowie.

While the Staggies look for a new manager, however, I’m pleased their planning for the new season is not being disrupted and Laidlaw’s new deal is a deserved one.

The goalkeeper has had a fantastic season for the Staggies and I was not surprised to see him claim the player of the year prizes at the club at the weekend.

I know I’ve waxed lyrical about him a few times this season after seeing some of the great stops he made when his team was under pressure.

He has worked really hard to establish himself as the first choice at Victoria Park and that is important. Goalkeeper is a specialist position and the outfield players need someone they know they can trust behind them.

That is why in most cases you see one guy selected for the role and, if he is fit, he plays.

He is rewarded for his consistency over the piece and, even if he misses a few matches and his understudy does well, it can be tempting to bring the first choice guy back in.
Laidlaw has proven himself worthy of being that first choice for the club going forward.

Auld Enemy squad for Euros could contain a few surprises

Will Trent Alexander-Arnold make the England squad for the Euros?

I’m usually not all that interested in the England squad for a major tournament, but I have to say it will be a shocker if Trent Alexander-Arnold is not their squad for the Euros when it is announced today.

I’m taking a mild interest given the Auld Enemy are in Scotland’s group for the tournament and I’m sure Scotland fans will be thrilled if the Liverpool man is left out of Gareth Southgate’s squad.

I watched the Aston Villa v Chelsea game on Sunday and was interested to see that Southgate was at Villa Park. If he was looking at Jack Grealish then he will be having second thoughts about him, too, as he didn’t do himself any favours with his display in the game.

We’ll find out today who we’re facing, but I have to say I’m very happy with the squad Steve Clarke has assembled to represent Scotland in the tournament.

I like the mix of youth and experience and, for the first time in a while, I can look at a squad and think “yes, I know him, I can see why he’s there, he’s done a good job, he’s a promising player.”

It has been a long time since I have been able to say any of those things with so many previous squads featuring players I know next to little about.

For years, following Scotland has felt as if we’re throwing mud at the wall and seeing what sticks, but now we seem to have a plan, familiarity and structure.

Steve seems to have made the players fall in love with playing for their country again. Here’s hoping that is represented by our performances on the pitch in the tournament.

Brechin could struggle to adapt to Highland League football

Brechin City manager Michael Paton.

I can see real problems ahead for Brechin City in the Highland League next season.

Their relegation from League Two will have hit them hard and it’s sad to see a club with such a long standing in Scottish football fall down the pecking order.

But, if we are going to reward ambitious clubs, someone has to make way and it is Brechin’s turn to drop down.

Barring a late change in policy, they will have the distinction of being the first club to drop down to the Highland League and that could present a challenge geographically for the club.

Forget the travelling to places like Wick and Brora, it’s player recruitment which will be the biggest change for the club. They have traditionally trained and sourced players from the Central Belt, so getting players to commit to play in the Highland League could be a major challenge for manager Michael Paton and his backroom staff.