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Motherwell not ‘one-man band’ as Ross County’s opponents lose star man Tony Watt

Ross County manager Malky Mackay is ready for Motherwell on Tuesday.
Ross County manager Malky Mackay is ready for Motherwell on Tuesday.

Ross County boss Malky Mackay admits Motherwell losing the Scottish Premiership’s top scorer Tony Watt to Dundee United is “an obvious loss” to Tuesday’s visitors to Dingwall.

However, he’s underlined the Steelmen have plenty of attacking class, who have already shown they can find the net without Watt.

The 28-year-old striker, who netted the winner when County played them in September, has switched to Tayside in a move which surprised many people.

Watt’s nine goals has him leading the Premiership’s scoring charts, with 10 goals netted overall this season.

Motherwell remain dangerous – boss

While Mackay acknowledges the significance of the transfer, he’s got his players focused on the dangermen they still have in their team for this 10th v fourth clash. 

Dutchman Kevin Van Veen scored three goals in two games before the break in wins over St Johnstone and Livingston.

The County manager said: “On the whole, Tony is someone who has scored a number of goals.

“He’s the top goalscorer in the division, so that’s an obvious loss for the club. What it does mean is that other players get to step up.

“I have to say that (Kaiyne) Woolery and (Kevin) Van Veen have been terrific this season, and they showed in the last game when Watt was on the bench that they’re in a way of playing.

Tony Watt’s nine Premiership goals attracted the attention of rivals Dundee United.

“Graham (Alexander) has got a team going there, and it’s not a one-man band.

“Obviously if you lose your number one striker, as a whole you’ve got to look at that and say that’s slightly debilitating.

“I’m sure that Graham will be saying to his players that it’s time for other people to step up to the plate, or he will go and do some business.

“There’s still a couple of weeks left to bring someone in, but it’s not easy to bring in a goalscorer and it’s certainly not easy to do it in January. We’re all in the same boat with that.”

Mackay added: “For Tuesday night, we’ve got a tough team coming up, a team that are on the crest of a wave over the last couple of months and have been very confident.

“It will be a tough one for us on Tuesday night, but I’m really looking forward to it.”

Jail End backing boosting County

Tuesday evening will see supporters able to return to the Global Energy Stadium in unrestricted numbers, after the Scottish Government lifted a Covid-tackling rule restricting outdoor crowds to 500.

Mackay is thrilled the Staggies faithful will be in the stand to roar his team on as they seek to potentially rise as high as eighth spot ahead of their weekend Scottish Cup trip to Livingston.

He added: “At the start of the season, there was the whole Covid hangover where people didn’t want to go back to football at all, and we suffered with that just as much as everyone else.

“As the season has gone on, you only need to look at December and the band that are in the Jail End.

“It has grown by the week, the noise is getting more frenetic, and it helps when the away fans bring a support with them as well.

“I’m loving us scoring goals here, because the stadium is so close to the pitch, it brings a really good atmosphere for the boys.”

Capital base used to sharpen up

The Dingwall squad used Scotland’s National Performance Centre, the Oriam in Edinburgh, to sharpen up ahead of their league return after finishing 2021 with a 2-1 defeat at Hearts.

Overall, the Staggies form has been impressive, with only the Jambos, Rangers and Celtic beating them over their last 10 fixtures.

Mackay is confident his players can now kick up the table.

He added: “The fine-tuning was done last week, and the last few days has obviously been all about Motherwell.

Ross County manager Malky Mackay.

“The concentration is back, they know they’ve just got to concentrate on the fixture right in front of their nose – the detail of what the team we’re going to play’s strengths are and what their weaknesses are.

“They get back into the way they were, and we were in a good run of form in the 10 games going into Christmas, so we’ve got to rise to that challenge again.

“The challenge was to get into the pack, which they did admirably, and now we’ve got to make sure we kick on from that.”

County will be without Jack Baldwin, who is suspended, and Keith Watson, who is recovering from a calf injury, but Alex Iacovitti is back in full training and ready for action.

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