Malky Mackay insists the performances of Connor Randall are keeping a number of natural central midfielders out of Ross County’s team.
Randall, who has played as a right-back throughout most of his career, has held down a role in the heart of the Staggies’ midfield this season.
The Englishman’s performances have drawn praise from Mackay, who feels Randall has made himself the first name on his Staggies’ team-sheet at present.
Just seven games into the Premiership campaign, Mackay says the 27-year-old is fast making himself an indispensable presence in his new role.
Mackay said: “To be honest, Connor Randall is number one pick in the team right now.
“Connor has moved into an area of the park, but he is one I couldn’t take the jersey back off, even if I wanted to.
“He has been Mr Consistency in there.
“It is whoever is going to play alongside him – and that is great credit to him.
“He has grown, certainly since I arrived, into a leader at the club.
“He now has certain responsibilities at the club.
“Before that, when he quietly went about his business, he would say things in meetings that I liked.
“He is now one of the main guys in the dressing room.
“He is so reliable, such a good professional and he clearly brings people towards him. He’s a radiator not a drain – someone you really want to be around.
“Those are the types you really want in your dressing room.
“I’m glad that I’ve got him.”
Randall has added to intense midfield competition
Mackay says Randall has done impressively well to hold down his place in a position where the Staggies are well stocked for options.
Victor Loturi has broken in the Canada squad following a fine debut campaign in Scotland, while Scott Allardice, Kyle Turner, Max Sheaf and Scott High were recruited during the summer.
Mackay is thrilled with the competition he has assembled, adding: “Max Sheaf has come back into training, while Scott High has been really unfortunate because he is training really well at the moment.
“Scott Allardice has come back into it and managed to get involved and hit the ground running.
“He is another experienced player with good presence, a nice footballer who desperately wants to do well for the club.
“Victor Loturi has come back in and looked the part, and Kyle Turner has taken to the Premiership as well.
“Connor has taken to it like a duck to water and we’ve had (Josh) Sims and (Yan) Dhanda playing in a more forward area as well.
“All of a sudden I have real competition in that midfield area. That means they are scrapping for the jersey, which is good.”
Brown a fine performer at right-back
Mackay says Randall’s transition into midfield has been made even smoother by the consistency of another summer signing, James Brown, who has held down the right-back position.
Irishman Brown arrived from Blackburn Rovers during the summer, with Mackay thrilled with the way he has slotted into the side.
He added: “Not too far behind Connor is the full-back he has moved out of position for, James Brown.
“Overall, considering he has just come into Scottish football, there have been a couple of days when he could have done better things, but I’m delighted for him to hit the ground running in the way he has.
“He looks as if he has played right-back for years.
“He is just the right age – he has the right willingness to want to kick on in his career. There’s a desire to get into the Republic of Ireland team.
“He has captained a team, been at a big club and has come here and hit the ground running.
“That allows me to play Connor where I want to play him.”