Ross County’s 3-5-2 system deployed by Malky Mackay so far has put a strong emphasis on their wing-backs, and Connor Randall already looks have a key role under the new Staggies boss.
The Dingwall men have deployed a defensive trio of Keith Watson, Alex Iacovitti and Coll Donaldson in their opening three matches, with their only other natural centre half– Tom Grivosti – still sidelined through injury.
County have bolstered their depth down the spine of the park in recent days by adding Arsenal defender Harry Clarke on loan, while Austrian midfielder David Cancola is now available following his move from Slovan Liberec.
The Staggies remain light in the wider areas of the park however, and it remains to be seen if Mackay will persist with the same formation once his squad is closer to completion.
Irrespective of where he is deployed, the attacking intent of regular right back Randall in Saturday’s 0-0 draw with St Johnstone provides an outlet that Mackay will be eager to maximise throughout the campaign.
Randall occupied the right hand side of the pitch, with the attacking thirds graphic below showing that attacks stemming from his area were significantly higher (50.2%) than the central (23.7%) and left flanks (26.1%).
The Englishman’s fellow full back Jake Vokins was ruled out by injury on the eve of the game, and replaced on the left-hand side by Regan Charles-Cook.
Grenada international Charles-Cook was not long back from representing his country at the Concacaf Gold Cup, making his 90-minute contribution in such a demanding role all the more impressive.
Charles-Cook is naturally a more attacking wide player though, meaning Mackay is likely to find a short-term replacement for Vokins who has been ruled out for up to 10 weeks with a metatarsal fracture.
Despite Randall’s defensive background compared to that of Charles-Cook, Ross County’s team heatmap (below left) shows that the right hand side was their most prominent attacking outlet against Saints. Randall’s own touchmap (below right) highlights he was a key part of that, and was most involved higher up the park.
Indeed, Randall was among the most advanced of County’s players against the Perth side, as evidenced by the average position graphic below.
Randall will be looking upon the new campaign as something of a fresh start, having been limited to only 17 appearances last season.
Despite an encouraging start to his debut season in Dingwall a number of injuries took their toll on the former Liverpool defender, who ultimately lost his right back slot to Jason Naismith following his arrival in January.
With Naismith having now moved on to Killie, the opportunity now looks to have presented itself for Randall under the new management of Mackay.