Malky Mackay is relishing the chance to kick off the Premiership season at home to double cup winners St Johnstone this weekend.
The Ross County manager was thrilled that his side signed off from a troubled Premier Sports Cup campaign with a rousing 4-1 win over Montrose at the weekend and now he has a full week of work with the group ahead of taking on League Cup and Scottish Cup-winning Saints.
Saints fans will add to the atmosphere
Mackay said: “St Johnstone had a great year last season, so we won’t underestimate them at all. To win both cups was a fantastic achievement for the club.
“It will be a tough task on Saturday, but there won’t be a team in the division that won’t be tough.
“I’m sure this Saturday, St Johnstone will have a number of fans up here too who haven’t seen them since they won the Scottish Cup, so the atmosphere will be good as well.”
Due to Covid within the football department, County were forced to forfeit League Cup ties against Forfar Athletic and Dundee, which put them out of the competition despite wins over Brora Rangers and Montrose.
Fans and lush pitch lift Mackay
The manager says playing in front of supporters back at home on a lush surface was ideal at the weekend.
He explained: “We got back into it last week with two games and we’ve had a full run of it this week. It’s back to being a normal week in preparation for the weekend.
“It was great having the game here against Montrose on Saturday in front of our fans and to get the feel of the stadium with the fans in. It was good to get the team back on to the grass. The pitch is looking excellent – all credit to our groundsman, Davie Fraser.
“It was a really convincing win against a team that really came to press us and try to win the game themselves. I was delighted with that. That presented a different challenge from the Brora tie. We had both ends of the spectrum last week.
“We lost a couple of Premier Sports Cup games which we had to forfeit, but throughout the last six weeks there is nothing that could be done about the Covid situation. It’s a wider issue and we’ve seen other clubs having to forfeit games as well.
“The players just got on with it. They came in and trained very well since day one. Their attitudes have been fantastic. It has been an absolute please to train them.”
August will see more new faces for Staggies
Austrian midfielder David Cancola joined the Staggies on Friday and more signings are imminent, but Mackay will use until the end of August if need to be complete the rebuild.
He added: “The aim is to do as well as we can this season. It’s a brand-new group and there will have been a huge turnover of players by the time we get to the last day of the window at the end of August.
“That’s when we will have our squad in place for the new campaign. We then need to make sure we work hard as a club to do as well as we can in the Premiership.”