Senior figure Connor Randall reckons a strong dressing room at Ross County is leading to progression on the park.
The Liverpool-born full-back-turned-midfielder signed a new deal earlier this season, alongside fellow experienced pros, captain Jack Baldwin and striker Jordan White.
The 27-year-old, who joined the Staggies from Bulgarian top-table team Arda Kardzhali in 2000, first tasted life in Scotland’s top-flight with Hearts in 2017-18.
Randall, who has scored his only two goals for the club in his advanced role this season, is one of the most respected pros in the building.
And after last season’s flirtation with the drop, County are sitting in sixth spot in the Premiership after their opening five fixtures.
Best changing room so far – Randall
On Sunday, they go to Aberdeen, who are only above bottom spot because they’ve scored one goal more than St Johnstone.
Next Wednesday, the Dons head to Dingwall for the quarter-final of the Viaplay Cup, so there’s a big week ahead for the north rivals.
Randall explained the importance of the players gelling on a daily basis as they seek to repeat the feat of two seasons ago when they secured a top-six berth – by winning at Aberdeen on the final afternoon.
He said: “I think it is just a great group of lads – one of the best changing rooms I’ve been in during my time here.
“It is part of what the club is all about, so it isn’t a difficult dressing room to manage.
“Everyone is working for each other.
“Harmony off the pitch is massive in helping on the pitch.
“Any team that does well, in the main will have a good group of lads working together, and staff as well.
“We’ve got a good squad this season, full of good players. That can only benefit the team. We’re all pushing each other.”
Healthy competition raises standards
The arrivals of James Brown and Will Nightingale afforded manager Malky Mackay the luxury of using Randall in the heart of midfield on a regular basis.
The ex-Liverpool youth player says the added competition for starting shirts is one to relish.
He said: “Obviously I find myself in a new role in midfield, which I’m enjoying.
“It just keeps everyone on their toes. It means there are a lot of lads working hard in training to find a way into the team. That reflects in the standard at training.
“Any competition is healthy competition within the squad.
“What every footballer wants is to be training all week to play on the Saturday. It is tough when they are not playing.
“It’s a credit to all the lads working hard to get into the team or stay in it. There are a lot of bodies, but over the season we’re going to need every single person.”
Randall eyes positive Pittodrie result
Over the past two years, it has been one win apiece and four draws in the County and Aberdeen fixtures.
Despite the Dons’ winless start to the league season, Randall expects a challenging day at Pittodrie, but is quietly confident too.
He said: “Especially away from home, it is tough against them.
“They haven’t had the greatest of starts, but we don’t read anything into that – they are a great team.
🦌 Ahead of Sunday’s trip to Aberdeen, we decided to dig into the archive for a rather memorable day at Pittodrie where we secured top 6 football!
— Ross County FC (@RossCounty) September 20, 2023
“They have a big squad full of quality players. We know how big a test it will be, but we’ll go through there and look to impose ourselves and hopefully get a positive result.
“Everyone is excited to go there on Sunday. It is a good ground to play at, but a very tough test.
“We’re confident we can go there and implement our plan, and hopefully come away with a good result.”
Ross County has a ‘family feel’ to it
Randall believes the switch to Scotland was made easy from day one by the people within the stadium.
He said: “Obviously coming here, it was a long way from home, but I felt I settled quite quickly.
“It is a club full of great people and there is a real family feel to the club.
“There isn’t a massive amount of staff – it’s a small group – and that’s what makes the club. It is the people.
“It is also a nice place to live and it has just clicked for me. I really enjoy it and I’m now probably the most settled I’ve been, and the longest I’ve been anywhere, since Liverpool.
🎟️ Ticketing information for Sunday's trip to face @AberdeenFC is now available.
— Ross County FC (@RossCounty) September 19, 2023
“If you’re settled off the pitch, it plays a massive part on it.
“I’m really enjoying it and hopefully it can continue.
“The family come up when they can to see games, although it is a lot harder than, say, Glasgow for them.
“My dad will do a few games and a bit of a tour, and the missus is up here as well, which makes it a lot easier.”