Ross County have been dealt another left back blow after Jack Burroughs was ruled out for up to a month with an ankle injury.
The Staggies were already short in the position after summer signing Jake Vokins suffered a metatarsal fracture shortly after his loan move from Southampton.
Mackay subsequently drafted in versatile Coventry City player Burroughs on a temporary deal with a view to him providing cover at left back, only for him to suffer an ankle injury ahead of Sunday’s 4-2 loss to Rangers.
That prompted Mackay to hand a senior debut to 21-year-old midfielder Ben Paton, who was signed earlier this month, in an unfamiliar position.
Mackay was heartened by Paton’s reaction to playing the new role, which he says could provide much-needed cover during the absence of Burroughs and Vokins.
Mackay, whose side face Aberdeen at Pittodrie on Sunday, said: “Losing Jake Vokins for a long spell has been a blow and Jack Burroughs who, in pre-season, played against Sevilla for Coventry at left-back.
“Jack was going to come in there against Rangers, but a couple of days before he tweaked his ankle and he’s possibly going to be out for a month or so.
“That was a bit of a blow but Ben coped admirably. I shouldn’t really have asked him to do that on Saturday – his first time playing at left-back. He’s a young midfielder and I threw him in for his Premiership debut in Scotland at left-back.
“But I had a lot of confidence in him and the fact he is so comfortable on the ball.
“He was playing against the most attack-minded full-back in Scotland, James Tavernier.
“To play the way he did against him and how he did in that left-back area, bodes well for the future of Ben at this football club, whether at left-back or midfield.”
Canadian Paton, who is the younger brother of County midfielder Harry Paton, has impressed Mackay since initially arriving on trial during the summer following the expiry of his contract at English Championship side Blackburn Rovers.
Mackay added: “He has come here from a good academy structure at Blackburn Rovers, having come over from Canada.
“He’s come here and trained with us for a few weeks and I really liked what I saw, so we signed him.
“His use of the ball, as we saw, at times when our players put him under a bit of pressure, he was so calm in the first half especially.
“There was a ball thrown to him under pressure and he turned his back on it, took a touch, got hit, fell on the ball for a foul, and it relieves pressure.
“I was really pleased with him among a few debuts.”
Mackay was also thrilled with the display of Arsenal loanee Harry Clarke, who netted County’s first goal on his first start for the Dingwall outfit.
He added: “I thought Harry Clarke was an absolute Rolls Royce at the weekend.
“He came on at Hibs and did well, but that was his first start for us.
“As the game went on, he really grew and in the second half especially I thought he was terrific.
“He played a couple of fantastic passes and put Blair Spittal right through on goal at one point.
“I think there’s lots to come from Harry.”