Former Ross County keeper Scott Fox reckons new Staggies signings will be on the road to success in Dingwall once they handle being away from home.
Fox, who won the League Cup, Championship and Challenge Cup over four dazzling years in Dingwall until 2019, appreciates there’s a big rebuild going on at Victoria Park.
Ten players, including captain Iain Vigurs and record appearance holder and scorer Michael Gardyne, failed to land new deals and Malky Mackay replaced John Hughes as the manager.
So far, loanees Alexander Robertson and Jake Vokins have signed on from Manchester City and Southampton, while ex-Gillingham striker Dominic Samuel and former Hamilton midfielder Ross Callachan have also joined the club.
Fox has recovered from more than a year out of the game mainly due to injury and signed a new one-year deal with Motherwell, having made the switch from Partick Thistle.
2️⃣ Stephen O'Donnell
5️⃣ Bevis Mugabi
7️⃣ Kaiyne Woolery
Our 2021/22 squad numbers so far are set. pic.twitter.com/k1bzSJDnjv
— Motherwell FC (@MotherwellFC) June 30, 2021
Special times for Fox in the Highlands
The 34-year-old, who only left Dingwall to be closer to his family in the central belt, believes new arrivals must get to grips with Highland life and the hurdles of geography.
He said: “Ross County keep defying the odds. When I was there, we had a game plan in-house and we stuck to it and we achieved something special.
“The chairman (Roy MacGregor) speaks his mind. He always wants the club to, first and foremost, stay in the league then he wants to do well from there.
“It’s a big changeover this summer and there are a lot of factors come into play. New players need to commit to moving up because, given the distances, you very rarely get home.”
Staggies will use cup as ‘mini-pre-season’
County’s football department is closed until next week due to a number of players testing positive for Covid and they have had to forfeit their Premier Sports Cup tie at Forfar this Saturday, resulting in a 3-0 defeat.
Fox concedes that’s far from ideal, but insists their games against Dundee, Brora Rangers and Montrose in that competition this month will sharpen them for the July 31 Premiership start against St Johnstone.
He admits: “The Covid cases this week won’t help anyone. You want to get familiar with your team-mates and understand the game a little bit better.
“They will see the Premier Sport Cup games they have left as a mini-pre-season. That gets more game time in the legs and get players more familiar with what’s happening around the club.
“As footballers, we have to deal with Covid now, but then everyone in life is dealing with it. We at least get to go to work, so we can’t complain.”
Training injury put Fox on the sidelines
Fox is determined to return to the limelight with Motherwell after a horror injury and a shortened season combined to rob him of 13 months of football.
The ex-Staggies number one is looking for a fresh start after an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury suffered at Motherwell training put him on a long, painful road to recovery.
He joined the Steelmen last summer from Partick Thistle, one year after four brilliant years with County in which he helped the club win the League Cup, the Championship and Challenge Cup.
He has yet to play for the Well and hopes the chapter can begin soon.
A freak training injury, when he was saving a shot and his knee buckled, kept him out and he had to go under the knife to build back to fitness.
Championship strugglers Morton threw him a lifeline at the tail end of last season and he answered their SOS to keep clean sheets in a 4-0 aggregate relegation play-off final triumph against Airdrie to keep the Ton in the second tier.
Thrilled to have signed on for another year at Motherwell, Fox said: “After coming back from my ACL, I was determined to get back to a decent level again.
“I managed to get a couple of games at the end of the season with Morton in the play-offs. Motherwell came straight back in to say they wanted to keep me and we sorted out a deal pretty quickly.
Fox explained why he was football-free for more than a year.
He said: “I was out for seven months, but it worked out that when I played my first game with Morton, I had not played a competitive game for 13 months because of Covid cutting short the season.
“I am feeling fit and raring to go and looking forward to the games again. We have a rebuild job at Motherwell where we let go 15 or 16 players, so it’s a new team and new outfit, so hopefully it will be a successful one.
“Liam Kelly has come in (from QPR on a permanent deal), so it’s a battle between us to play. Liam done so well last year, so I must push him as much as I possibly can and see what happens.
“I am enjoying my football again. Following injury, it’s a real wake-up call. I had been fortunate throughout my career to stay relatively fit with only a few injuries here and there.”
Championship wide open for all clubs to target play-offs
It might have been a swift stint with Morton, but Fox feels that the Greenock side will fancy their chances just like any team in the Championship to make a push for a top-four spot.
He added: “You never know. The year we won the league at Ross County, Ayr were up in the top four and they were maybe not fancied.
“It’s also about confidence in that league and the squads having togetherness. The squads are lower in numbers and they are close-knit. That can carry you far in the Championship.”