Ross County manager Malky Mackay believes his loan signings must be prepared to deal with a scrutiny they have never encountered before in the Scottish Premiership.
Mackay has utilised the English Premier League loan market this summer, with Arsenal defender Harry Clarke, Manchester City midfielder Alex Robertson and Southampton full back Jake Vokins brought in on temporary deals.
The Staggies boss is still looking to add to his squad, with Mackay hopeful of adding a further two signings ahead of Sunday’s match against Hibernian at Easter Road.
Mackay, who previously managed Watford, Cardiff City and Wigan Athletic, feels the daily analysis of the Scottish game provides young players with a far closer insight into English top-flight reality than they would experience from a loan switch to a lower league club south of the border.
Mackay said: “The scrutiny that is on the top league in Scotland is something they will not have handled.
“What I talk to them about is the obsession in Scotland with football.
“Having been down in England, the lower the league goes, the less scrutiny there is.
“You might have the highlights on a Saturday night but, up here, the top league is on TV all the time. It is covered by every radio station, social media, our journalists are at every game.
“It is talked about every day, clubs are analysed every day.
“I love it, to be honest – the debate and discussion, argument and opinion oozes passion for the game in our country.
“That’s something these loan players have got to handle because if they want to become the top player, it also happens in the English Premier League, having been there myself.
“If they want to go and become international footballers, it is about pressure and about handling that elite environment.
“That’s what we can offer players who come here. We can give them those experiences they wouldn’t get in England’s lower leagues.
“They are going to be on television, talked about a lot and in front of 50,000 or 60,000 fans they’ve got to be calm, make the correct decision under pressure – these are the things that we can bring to players that want to come up and join us.”
Mackay is excited by the potential of his latest recruit Clarke, with the 20-year-old having enjoyed a successful loan stint with Oldham Athletic last season.
Clarke was among Arsenal’s first team squad during pre-season, and played in a 2-1 friendly loss against Sunday’s opponents Hibs earlier in the summer.
Mackay added: “We looked at the fact he had already been out on loan.
“We did some work on him and tracked him, and spoke to people at Oldham as well.
“I had a really good conversation with Arsenal’s loans manager Ben Knapper.
“I have to thank them, they’ve been really good to deal with.
“Then Harry came up with the first team squad and played against Hibs at Easter Road a few weeks ago, bizarrely enough.
“He has been in and around their first team. He’s in great physical shape. A real good pro.
“He looks like everything you would want in a footballer and a defender.
“I’m delighted to have got him as we were in competition for him and he’s decided to throw his hat in the ring for us.”