Ross County manager Malky Mackay has urged goalkeeper Ross Laidlaw to show why he deserves to reclaim the gloves.
Mackay made a change between the sticks for Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Hearts, with on-loan Charlton Athletic goalkeeper Ashley Maynard-Brewer handed his debut after Laidlaw had started the opening five matches of the campaign.
Although Australian Maynard-Brewer impressed in his first Staggies outing, Mackay says the onus on is now on former Hibernian goalkeeper Laidlaw to show in training that he merits a recall.
Mackay said: “I have been watching it and I just felt it was time for a change there. There were some raised eyebrows before the game, but I also think there were some raised eyebrows after the game as to how well Ashley did.
“When you look at the manner in which he came in, the positive nature of him around his own box with the crosses he came for and the saves he made, that’s when people start to see what we are seeing every day in training.
“You’ve got to make sure that when you are in those goals you stay consistent.
“When you are not in the goals, I spoke to Ross about it and it’s a case of going back to training again and working hard. It’s not a case of ‘that’s that.’
“Like every other jersey, it’s up for grabs and you have to be consistent. When you are out, you’ve got to make sure you train really well because at any point you could be back in again.
“It’s only healthy there is competition for places in every position on the pitch.”
Mackay says the performance in training of 22-year-old Maynard-Brewer, who was part of Australia’s Olympic squad during the summer, convinced him the time was right to pitch him in last weekend.
He added: “I spoke to the Charlton manager Nigel Adkins, who thought it was the right time to get him out on loan.
“But it was evidence-based on what he has done here. In the six weeks he has been here, his standard of goalkeeping in training has been exceptional.
“I can tell – I have been lucky enough to play in front of a couple of top goalkeepers. I played in front of Craig Gordon for Scotland, as well as Robert Green and Ben Foster who were England goalkeepers.
“I have trained with these people and you can tell what they have got.”
Mackay revealed on-loan Southampton left back Jake Vokins has returned to Dingwall, having gone back to his parent club to undertake rehabilitation following a metatarsal fracture in July.
Although Vokins is still some way off featuring, Mackay feels returning to the Staggies will come as a major boost to the 21-year-old.
He added: “Southampton have allowed him to come back up and do his last month or so of rehab with us.
“He’s one of a number of people who are injured down at Southampton. He’s in a physio room, and I’m pretty sure their manager is going in and telling the physio ‘I need him fit’ while Jake is sitting on the other side of the room.
“The fact is this is where he’s going to be for the vast majority of the season, so it’s terrific to get him back up among the boys.
“When he left us there was a crazy amount of business done in the last couple of weeks, so there are boys here he doesn’t even know.
“We are delighted we are able to get him back into the fold, to get to know people around the place and get settled into his house.
“We will then look to get him back fit and into the training again.”