The health of the Ross County players is the top priority for Malky Mackay after the Premiership club returned to work this week.
A 10-day period of football lockdown due to a number of positive cases within the group led to County’s Premier Sports Cup opener at Forfar Athletic being forfeited last week.
That led to a 3-0 win for Forfar, who now have five points on the board after a penalty shoot-out win over Montrose.
Newly-promoted Premiership side Dundee began with a sweeping 4-0 midweek win over Highland League champions Brora Rangers and they come to Dingwall this Sunday seeking a win to grasp control of Group C.
Covid situation is changing ‘week-by-week’
County only had a 5-0 bounce game win at League Two Elgin before the virus struck the squad and the manager explained assessing his group as they returned to the stadium on Thursday was his chief focus.
He said: “We had to forfeit the Forfar game, which was disappointing.
“Off the back of the Elgin friendly, I was really looking forward to that game, but none of us can tell when or how this is going to hit, it seems to be changing week-by-week.
“You’re reacting to what happens. This club have done remarkably well over the last year in terms of getting the correct protocols, and still are, which is probably why our conversations with the authorities have been as smooth as they have.
“I don’t know where we’re going to go with this over the next few days.
“My first responsibility is to the health of the players, so we’ll see how they are and react accordingly over the next few days. I don’t know what the next week or so holds.”
Mackay eager to see supporters return
On Sunday, the turnstiles will click at Victoria Park for the first time this year and the match with Dundee will also be Mackay’s first in the dugout for a competitive fixture as the Staggies gaffer.
In terms of clash, he stressed: “I’m very much looking forward to it.
“Ross County were one of the clubs last year that managed to get fans in for four or five games, which was terrific for the club and really showed the work that was done here.
“Everybody has seen fans in at the Euros, and that was something that everybody enjoyed.
“I’m no different, I can’t wait for fans to get back into stadiums. I was at games last year that felt eerie – it felt like practice matches, but it actually meant very important things for their livelihoods.
“It’s great to get fans back into the stadium, and fingers crossed in the coming months that rises back to a point where we’re nearing normality.”
Fans will offer lift to the players
Mackay admits just hearing fans get right behind their team, like we saw at Euro 2020, will offer an edge for the players.
He added: “You only need to see both Hampden and Wembley, when fans were singing even in small groups it made a difference to the players.
“Full credit to the players last year at all clubs for having the mentality to go out and play games at the standard they did. It is difficult when there’s not that atmosphere in the stadium.
“With how some of the stadiums up here can get, it does make a huge difference having fans back in.”
Ross County this week offered advice for fans returning to Victoria Park this weekend.