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Ross County boss Malky Mackay sees Regan Charles-Cook destined for English Premier League

Ross County boss Malky Mackay, left, with Regan Charles-Cook.
Ross County boss Malky Mackay, left, with Regan Charles-Cook.

Ross County Malky Mackay would love to hang on to scoring sensation Regan Charles-Cook – but knows English Premier League clubs are eyeing his rise.

The 24-year-old Grenada international’s four goals in January earned him the SPFL Premiership player of the month prize today.

On Saturday, after missing a penalty, he hit back with the clincher in a 2-1 victory at Dundee to move the 10th-placed Staggies eight points ahead of their beaten basement hosts and seven clear of St Johnstone.

The winger has been a revelation under Mackay this term, a player with a new lease of life after scoring just twice in all of last season.

Talks ongoing to deal scoring star in

Charles-Cook’s dazzling displays have captured attention nationwide, and Mackay and chief executive Steven Ferguson know the player, who is out of contract in the summer, is of great value to them if they can find a way to tie him to a new deal.

Otherwise, he could leave Dingwall for free.

Mackay said: “We’re still having a conversation with him, but I’m conscious of his situation as well and conscious of the possibility of just where he could go. I get that.

“It’s something we’re looking at with Steven Ferguson in recruitment – how we purchase and who we purchase, when and for how long, so we do get to a point where we are selling assets.

“I know there’s a financial balance to it, so there’s no blame lain at anyone’s door

“We’ve just come out of Covid where clubs are lucky they are surviving and it is only through the goodness of (chairman) Roy MacGregor that our club is still here.

“It is in the second year of his contract. But in the meantime, what I’ve got is a player who hasn’t downed tools. There’s times players could, knowing they have something ready to rumble.

Ross County manager Malky Mackay.

“Regan has been terrific – he’s a great character.

“We saw one side of him with the goal against Dundee, but the difference in him this year was also the tackle he made down in the bottom left corner in the first half to stop the cross coming in.

“I wish Regan nothing but success – I want him to go and play in the English Premier League.”

Great attitude serves winger so well

Mackay is clearly enjoying working with Charles-Cook and praised the way he goes about his daily work.

He added: “He’s got a great personality – there’s a great starting point.

“He has a smile on his face every day, but is a really well-rounded young man.

“They all have different personalities and characters, but he’s one who will actually go and wander over to one of the staff in the office and sit there chatting with them just about life.

“He comes from a big family and what caught me immediately with him was just his ability to sit down and hold a conversation with you, at his age, and have a really good chat.

“As the season has worn on, that has expanded on to the pitch.

“He came back late because he had Gold Cup involvement with Grenada. He missed a bit if pre-season and then we were hit by Covid.

“The starting point for him wasn’t easy off the back of a quieter last season, I think it is fair to say.

“When he came up from Gillingham, first of all he was driving up for training and then driving off to be by himself because of Covid.

“There were some, let’s say, bigger characters here at the club that maybe overshadowed him.

“Once he got back, got into the groove and into the way I wanted to train, things just started to click.”

Charles-Cook took advice on board

And the clicking became louder when Mackay saw Charles-Cook give one of Celtic’s main men a run for his money in Glasgow. That trickery, with goals to boot, is a lethal combination.

Mackay added: “When we initially had the conversation about how well he was doing, I said there was maybe another 20-25 per cent he could add. I said he could add goals to his game.

“We remember how well he played down at Celtic Park against Josip Juranovic.

Regan Charles-Cook taking on Celtic’s Croatian defender Josip Juranovic earlier this season.

“I thought, okay, if he was doing that against a European star, then there was no reason he couldn’t do that every week against the rest of the teams.

“It was down to making sure, when the ball was on the other side of the pitch, he was in his correct position, rather than still out wide.

“It was about being on the front foot when he got into the box, anticipating where the ball would drop. Those are the things he has added to his game quickly.

“It’s okay me saying it, showing it to him, but you need the player to take it in and produce it on the pitch on the Saturday in the heat of the game, with the noise of the crowd and the ball flashing around, someone trying to kick you.

“That’s where I give him great credit – he’s actually gone and put it into practice and taken his game to another level up.

“That’s what I’m most delighted about with him – and I think there’s still more to come.”

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