Ross County manager Malky Mackay has urged his players to embrace the opportunity to face Celtic in front of a sold-out Parkhead on Saturday.
The Hoops have confirmed they have sold their full allocation for the visit of the Dingwall side, with no allowance made for any County fans to attend for the second successive away match.
🚨 SOLD OUT! 🏟️
We look forward to seeing you all at Celtic Park this weekend.
— Celtic Football Club (@CelticFC) September 8, 2021
The experience of playing the Hoops in front of a crowd in Glasgow will be new to Mackay’s 12 summer signings, along with many who joined the club last season when games were played behind closed doors.
Despite the lack of Staggies supporters present, Mackay has urged his players to draw inspiration from the noisy home crowd.
Mackay, who spent five years as a player with the Hoops before joining Norwich City in 1998, said: “We will not have any fans down at Parkhead, but on the flip side of that I want players to want to play at the biggest arenas possible.
“You are in a cauldron up here. We watch football every night, you are talked about every day and analysed every night.
“You will play in front of 60,000 at Parkhead, and the same sort of attendance at Ibrox. Why would you not want that on your CV?
“I have had that myself. I have stood in front of that crowd myself and played, and it’s something every player should want to do.
“Playing in front of almost 15,000 at Aberdeen the previous weekend, for vast periods of that game we managed to keep it a quiet ground.
“I was buzzing when we came out here and this place had 5,500 fans. Most of them were Rangers fans singing Rangers songs, but it was fabulous atmosphere for a game.
“Having been at Parkhead and knowing what it’s going to be like, I cannot wait for the weekend.
“I have spoken to the players about it, they should be walking out that tunnel with their chests out and shoulders back.”
Although Celtic have sold their allocation out, Mackay expressed disappointment at County fans being kept out of Pittodrie for their last game despite Aberdeen attracting a crowd of just over 14,000.
Mackay added: “It’s great the players are playing in front of full stadiums again and our supporters are back here, but I was really disappointed that we didn’t have any fans at Pittodrie.
“It was a shame Ross County didn’t have a set of fans there, as it certainly wasn’t a full house.
“For our fans not to see that, I was disappointed about that.”
Nearly a fortnight will have passed since the 1-1 draw against Aberdeen by the time County kick off at Parkhead this weekend, and Mackay hopes to have made as good a use of the international break as possible.
Mackay added: “In one sense it was good.
“Coming off the back of the Aberdeen game, I would have loved another one the following Saturday, but it allowed the players to draw breath after a pretty intense three month period.
“They’ve put in a lot of work, we had the Covid situation, 16 players went out and at final count 12 came in, so it allowed them to get to know each other and a little bit of time off.
“It allowed them to get back to their families, and for some of the guys they got the chance to settle in.”