Former Ross County defender Brian Irvine insists the Dingwall club should remain upbeat about the future despite Covid infections wiping out their first competitive game of the season.
The Staggies reportedly have eight players and coaches affected by positive Covid tests, which led to them being forced to forfeit Saturday’s Premier Sports Cup tie at Forfar Athletic and a 3-0 win handed to their League Two opponents.
The football department of the club will return to work next week in time to prepare for their next cup-tie, which at home to newly-promoted Dundee a week on Sunday (July 18).
Signs were encouraging going into this week, following on from a 5-0 friendly win for County at Elgin City in manager Malky Mackay’s first game in charge.
Ross Callachan netted twice on his debut and another of Mackay’s signings, Dominic Samuel scored with a header.
Full-back Jake Vokins, 21, and midfielder Alexander Robertson, 18, have also signed on season-long loans from English Premier League clubs Southampton and Manchester City.
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Ex-defender Irvine, who played for the Dingwall side for four years until 2003, believes County fans should keep their chins up amid the Covid concerns.
He said: “It was a good start with that result and performance at Elgin. The signings he has made so far look like quality additions.
“That is backed up by the academy graduates coming through and showing up so well, players such as Matthew Wright. It won’t happen overnight, but the club will be seeing the fruits of the work within the academy.
“Obviously, Roy (MacGregor, chairman) made the change and brought in Malky. He has got a great record in management over the years.
“So, the club has made a quality appointment as a manager, so from that position to the starting 11 and down to the academy all the signs show that the ducks are all lined up.
“The game being off on Saturday is obviously a disappointment, but that should only be a temporary issue.”
Covid provides new challenges, says Irvine
Irvine expects the complexities of Covid to continue to disrupt football and society for a while yet, while the vaccine programme continues to be rolled out.
He explained: “This just shows that Covid is not going away. Being asymptomatic whereby you could be testing positive but you have no real symptoms is going to be an ongoing thing, be it in football or life in general.
“This could still cause issues, although the situation thankfully should not be quite as severe these days.”
Dundee opener will keep County on their toes
County’s players aim to get back to the training pitch next week to get ready for that home Dundee clash in the cup and Irvine feels that will be a stern test in which the Highlanders will have to be impress in.
He stressed: “The Dundee game is a big one for County against a team now in the same league as them. Hopefully they will have their players back for that one, with it being a Sunday match.
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“To take on Dundee, a team in the Premiership at home will prove to be a fair test for Ross County, but having had that game against Elgin, that will help them.
“The Covid infection is a setback for them, but hopefully they can train ahead of the Dundee match and I’d say the can say they’re going into that in a positive frame of mind.”
Like many clubs, the Premier Sports Cup was going to be used in part preparation for the start of the league campaign, which gets underway on July 31.
And Irvine feels it’s important to use the competition for both purposes.
He added: “In the past, this time of the year was used for pre-season friendlies. Clubs are still using these cup-ties as that, but they also have the competitive edge to them.”
- County season ticket holders can claim free tickets for the home Premier Sports Cup ties against Dundee and Montrose by calling 01349 860860 or by visiting the club shop, which is open 10am-4pm.