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Harry Clarke’s Hibs move highlights benefits of Ross County to targets, says boss Malky Mackay

Ross County manager Malky Mackay.
Ross County manager Malky Mackay.

Ross County manager Malky Mackay reckons Harry Clarke’s new year switch to Hibs is an ideal example to transfer targets what playing for the Dingwall club could offer.

The Arsenal defender was a revelation during his loan spell in the Highlands, so much so he was recalled by the London giants and loaned out to another Scottish Premiership side, the Hibees, for 18 months as the next stage of his development.

Harry Clarke battles with Rangers’ Ryan Kent.

The 20-year-old, who has since been sidelined with a hamstring injury for several weeks, showed shining for the Staggies can lead to bigger moves.

As part of his attempts to attract talent from England, Mackay is also selling the north of Scotland as a great part of the country for players looking to settle down.

Last week, Coventry City’s Declan Drysdale and Southampton’s Kayne Ramsay, joined on loan until the end of the season, with both involved in Tuesday’s stirring 3-1 home league win over Motherwell. Drysdale played the full match, with Ramsay coming on in the latter stages.

Pitching for players at highest level

Mackay, whose side take their strong form on to Livingston in the Scottish Cup this weekend, is planning more new faces before the month is out and explained how the backing from chairman Roy MacGregor is giving them a chance to bring in quality players.

He said: “Mr MacGregor here has been fantastic in backing the plans and strategies we have, but there’s a point where, if I don’t think it is right for the club, we walk away and go and get something else.

Ross County chairman Roy MacGregor.

“In the summer, we looked at 60 and managed to get 12. That’s the way it is.

“But what I won’t stop doing is trying to pitch for players at a level we might not have got before.

“It is selling the club to them, the whole project – the journey – and we will find people who will want to do that.

“There will be people who want to take that opportunity – like the Jack Baldwins of this world or, short-term, a Harry Clarke, who then ends up with one of Scotland’s biggest clubs pitching for him.

“There are opportunities, for various reasons, for players to come here.

“There is the opportunity to be at the top table in Scotland, the shop window, and the possibility of that kicking on to something higher.

“Or there’s the opportunity to come and really enjoy family life up here and really settle into top-level Scottish football. There are various aspects as to why you would come.”

Young guns could be in frame

Now back with County, Matthew Wright (19) and Adam Mackinnon (18) had been in sensational form on loan at Highland League champions Brora Rangers in the first half of the season.

Wright’s 21 goal-haul means he has been one of the top scorers in all competitions at Highland League level this term, while Mackinnon impressed weekly in midfield.

Their quality of work in training has also caught Mackay’s attention, and he said County won’t be signing players simply to be squad fillers – and potentially block the pair’s path to the first team.

Matthew Wright, in action while on loan at Brora, against Huntly’s Michael Clark.

He added: “We have young Adam Mackinnon and Matty Wright who are chapping on the door at the moment. Every day, the two of them are training really well.

“I’m not going to stand in the way of a couple of our own when it would be squad-fillers.

“It needs to be the kind of signing that will hit the ground running – I don’t really want just squad-fillers.

“We’ve got a squad that is finely-tuned at the moment and, if we can get one or two, we maybe thought we couldn’t get, but do get, we’ll have a real go for them. But not just for the sake of it.”

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