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Malky Mackay says securing European qualification could convince players to stay at Ross County

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

Malky Mackay hopes more players could be tempted to stay at Ross County if they can qualify for Europe.

The Staggies are in talks with a number of players whose contracts expire in the summer, including leading scorer Regan Charles-Cook, midfielder Harry Paton and defender Alex Iacovitti.

County’s immediate focus is on their push to secure a place in the Europa Conference League qualifiers next season, which they will achieve if they finish fourth or fifth.

They could take a big step towards that goal on Saturday when they host sixth-placed Motherwell, who they are a point ahead of.

With three games remaining, Mackay says getting over the line may prove a crucial factor in some of his players’ decisions.

Mackay said: “I have talked to the players about it, and there’s a target there ahead of them. Once we get to that point, we reassess.

“I suppose that’s what they can all do. They can all look at where we finished in the league, what we did this season, and how it went.

Regan Charles-Cook.

“Did we nearly get it? Did we hit the post? Or did we get there? And what does that mean for next year – what would it look like?

“I’ve got no issues with the guys that have got another couple of weeks left, and then they’ve got to make a decision.

“That’s life, it’s where we are at.

“In two weeks’ time people will be able to sit down and say: ‘this is where we are, and here is where the club has been.’

“We will see how that goes, but there is the possibility of something really different next year.”

Staggies boss taking step back from discussions – as out-of-contract players keep up good work

Mackay is keen to remain sidelined from the negotiation process while the season is ongoing, with chief executive Steven Ferguson taking the lead.

The Staggies boss has seen no reason to believe his players have been distracted by the discussions.

He added: “Steven is talking to various parties. I am in that to an extent, but right now I want to stay out of it and stay focused so I’ve got them where I want them on the pitch.

Steven Ferguson.

“I will let Steven deal with the two or three agents, and the two or three players, in terms of what their future might hold.

“If I saw something I didn’t enjoy, in terms of their habits because of situations with contracts winding down, I would take action.

“I have to say – I have got boys there whose contracts are out, who are running hard.

“I’m not seeing anything that means I have to intervene.

“We will deal with the next three games, and then it’s choice time for a couple of them.”

Mackay focused on preparing players for European push

County’s home game against Motherwell on Saturday is followed by a midweek trip to Rangers, before they conclude their campaign against Dundee United at Victoria Park.

Mackay is intent on taking the strain in the Staggies’ preparation, in order to allow his players to focus on the task at hand.

He added: “There’s a structure to the working week that the teams we’re playing against fit into from match day minus four to match day plus one.

Malky Mackay.

“It is a way I’ve worked for years. It is what I believe best works, certainly when you’re in the rigours of competition football and there can be Saturday-Tuesday and Saturday-Wednesday on a regular basis.

“That makes for a heavy workload for the staff, which makes it an easy function for the players.

“A lot of work that goes on in and around that is unseen to them and they just get to see the process, which is how it should be as they’re concentrating on going out and implementing it.”

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