Josh Reid is already loving his return home to Ross County – and cannot wait for his first taste of competitive action in front of Staggies supporters this season.
The 21-year-old left-back returned to his hometown club, two years after being lured to Coventry City on the back of some standout performances in a breakthrough year in Scotland’s top-flight.
He played only one match for the Sky Blues and the same again on loan at Stevenage, so jumped at the chance to head back to the Highlands when boss Malky Mackay called him this summer, with a three-year deal too good to ignore.
Prior to his move down south, Reid, an assured back-line performer, was playing in front of no fans at all due to Covid restrictions.
The Scotland under-21 player will only be in front of a small amount of away fans on Saturday as County tackle League Two hosts Stranraer in their opening group stage fixture in the Viaplay Cup.
Next week, Championship opponents Morton head to the Global Energy Stadium for their second tie.
Seeing fans in stand will mean a lot
Reid is looking forward to the chance of shining for the Staggies in a competitive game in front of supporters in the stand.
He said: “I haven’t actually played in front of any fans here, so it will be good to see them all in the cup soon.
“It will mean a lot to walk out and actually see friends and family in the crowd that haven’t got to experience me playing for Ross County in Dingwall.
“I love this club. It’s my club – I live like five minutes up the road.
“I loved my time here before, so (coming back) was a no-brainer really.”
Reid was at play-off great escape as a fan
Last season, County came from four points adrift at the foot of the table to stay up via an incredible play-off final comeback triumph against Partick Thistle.
Reid explained how he lapped up the action from afar when his beloved team recovered from three goals down deep into the second leg against Partick to win after a penalty shoot-out.
He said: “I always kept an eye on how they were doing.
“I was at the Kilmarnock game and the last play-off game, because I’m a fan.
“I’m sure you could ask a lot of people what they were thinking in the play-off, but it was amazing to get it done the way they did.
“It was a great day, but hopefully we don’t need to do that next season and we can push on further up the table.”
‘Game understanding’ has improved
Despite the lack of first-team football during his time in England, Reid reckons he’s back in the Highlands as an improved player.
He added: “I didn’t play as much as I would like, but the experience down there was great and I met some amazing people.
“I think physically I’m much better than I was.
📆 Weekends are about to feel normal again
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“My understanding of the game has got a lot better since I moved down there, so I feel like I can bring that back up here now.
“The experience I’ve gained from being at Coventry and Stevenage is huge.
“I feel like I’ve learned a lot from it, and hopefully I can kick on.
“I’m more knowledgeable about the game now, and definitely physically I’m much better, so I think I’m in a good position going into the start of the season.”
Reid – ‘Hampden is on the table’
Saturday’s trip to Stair Park, Stranraer, is the first step for County in their Group D section of the Viaplay Cup.
After that, they take on Morton at home on July 22, Edinburgh City away on July 26 and Kelty Hearts at home on July 29.
Unbeaten County won their section last season, but were unseeded for the next stage and fell to a 4-1 defeat against Celtic in the second round.
The Staggies won the League Cup in 2016, and Inverness only last month lost to Celtic in the Scottish Cup final, having won that piece of silverware eight years ago.
Reid says there is no reason not to believe County can at least reach the latter stages.
He said: “If you get out of the group and get a couple of good draws, Hampden is on the table for the semi-final.
“That’s where everyone wants to be, all players want to be in the biggest matches.
“We want to go on a cup run and we’ll try our best to do so.”
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Take a look as we peel back the curtain and give you an in-depth look at a Saturday with Stranraer FC 💙 https://t.co/XkWVrbwLcB
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