Former Ross County striker Steven Hislop believes Don Cowie will be high in Roy MacGregor’s thoughts as he looks to assemble a new Victoria Park management team.
The Staggies are searching for a new boss after parting company with John Hughes following the expiry of his contract.
Hughes led County to Premiership safety after replacing Stuart Kettlewell on a short-term deal in December, however, the Staggies earlier this week confirmed the former Caley Thistle boss was moving on “to explore further football opportunities”.
Search for new manager
County chairman MacGregor will now begin the process of finding a new manager, with former Scottish FA performance director Malky Mackay the early frontrunner.
First-team coach Cowie is also among the names linked, with the former Staggies midfielder having also worked under Mackay during his time at Watford, Cardiff City and Wigan Athletic.
Hislop played with Cowie during his initial spell at County and despite his lack of managerial experience, he feels Cowie’s move up the coaching ladder since his return to Dingwall suggests he could be considered for the role.
‘Hunch’ on Don Cowie
Hislop, who was with County between 2001 and 2003, said: “My hunch is saying it could be Don Cowie.
“He’s on the backroom staff and he’s been doing his badges, so I think he might get it.
“Sometimes when players get moves to a club, there is a purpose in it.
“He left Hearts, where he did a good job, and went back to County.
“In the back of my head at the time, I thought it would be a case of seeing how many games he could play before trying to develop him as a coach.
“Don is one of these nice guys in football, he’s clean living and there are never any problems or off the field issues.
“He was a good player and a great servant to the club. He lives up there and has all the connections.
“If he gets it, I’ll be delighted for him and I think it would be well deserved.
“That’s what my hunch says, but in football anything can happen.”
Contacts could prove key
Former Scotland international midfielder Cowie enjoyed a successful seven-year spell in England with Watford, Cardiff City and Wigan Athletic, and also played for Hearts before rejoining the Staggies in 2018.
Hislop believes Cowie’s contacts could prove key, adding: “If Don gets interviewed for it, I think part of his interview would be about who his number two would be.
“He’s probably going to make a few phone calls to say: ‘if I get this job, would you be interested?’
“I’ve been up there and the biggest stumbling block is the locality, when they try to get experienced guys up there.
“I don’t know what wages managers or assistants get at Ross County, but – if he’s going to try and get an older head in – they are probably going to want a wee bit of money.”
Surprise over departure of John Hughes
Hislop was surprised by the departure of Hughes, however, he anticipates the incoming manager will have a difficult job on his hands in what he expects to be a stronger top flight.
Hislop added: “I thought he might have stayed on after he kept them up.
“Knowing how Roy is, and how John is so enthusiastic, he maybe just saw it as a stop-gap to get him in.
“We don’t know what’s happening behind the scenes, but maybe that was agreed that was always going to be the case.
“I thought he would have got it, but – whoever gets it – it’s going to be a tough one.
“No disrespect to Hamilton, but I thought at the start of the season they would go down, they had dodged that bullet a few times.
“With Hearts and Dundee coming up, it’s going to be a strong league. Hibs and Aberdeen have also strengthened.
“No disrespect, but I can’t see County being anything other than a bottom-six team.
“With a new manager coming in, the objective may be to stay up and then rebuild.”
JOHN HUGHES LEAVES @RossCounty 🦌
🔵Does surprise exit mean Tannadice move? How have Staggies fans reacted?
🔵Where do County look now in bid for progress – Don Cowie? John Kennedy? Stephen Robinson?
— P&J Sport (@PandJSport) May 25, 2021