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Malky Mackay reveals Gregor Townsend insight as he prepares for hectic Ross County schedule

The Staggies are due to play 14 Premiership matches between now and the winter break, starting with Tuesday's trip to Dundee.

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend
Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend. Image: PA

Malky Mackay insists Ross County’s squad must be ready for an intensive upcoming period.

The Staggies return to action against Dundee on Tuesday, in their first outing since a 1-0 loss to Hearts on September 30.

It is the first of 14 Premiership matches the Staggies are scheduled to play before the winter break in January, with Saturday’s postponed match against St Mirren still to be rearranged.

Mackay, who previously served as Scottish FA performance director, regularly came across Scotland rugby head coach Gregor Townsend in training sessions at Oriam in Edinburgh.

The Staggies boss says Townsend’s insight into the process of preparing his side between games is fresh in the mind as he approaches the run of matches ahead.

Mackay said: “Coming out of this period of games where it will be full on until the Christmas break, it will be eight or nine weeks of carnage ahead.

“Obviously it’s a completely different sport, but I spoke to Gregor Townsend about this.

Gregor Townsend
Gregor Townsend. Image: Shutterstock.

“We used to work at the same facility down at Oriam. He would bring the Scotland team there and we would talk about preparation leading up to the Six Nations.

“He talked about the draw and what that would look like. With the greatest respect they’re always looking for Italy last, because as the tournament went on, the numbers halved because of the impact and physicality of it.

“By the end of the tournament, half of the squad are gone – that was something I had never thought about, having to deal with that.

“In any game, damage can happen.

“We saw in the Aberdeen game we had two taken out that meant we don’t have them for six to eight weeks.

“That’s just something that can happen so innocuously, and all of a sudden you’ve got players out.

“In terms of the amount of games we’ve got between now and Christmas, all squads will be tested in the Premiership.”

No qualms about St Mirren call-off

Mackay insists he was fully supportive of the decision to postpone Saturday’s game against the Buddies, given the impact Storm Babet had around the country.

He added: “Off the back of the international break, you want to get right back into it again.

Ross County manager Malky Mackay
Ross County manager Malky Mackay. Image: Shutterstock.

“We’ve obviously been disappointed with the games being off – but there’s been a fair bit of suffering in the country and a lot of devastation.

“People have had tough times, so we pale into insignificance when it comes to making sure everyone is safe.

“It really wouldn’t have been a journey many people would have wanted to undertake, so I understand it.

“The sporting impact is that we go into a period where we’ll have a fair number of Tuesday games. But that’s life.”

Staggies boss comes up against Docherty – as manager – for first time

County go into the match in 11th place but level on points with the Dark Blues, who are three goals better off.

Mackay is wary of Tuesday’s newly-promoted opponents, who he feels have adapted seamlessly since former Aberdeen and Kilmarnock assistant Tony Docherty took charge in the summer.

The Staggies boss added: “I’ve known Tony Docherty a long time, and he’s a very good coach.

Dundee manager Tony Docherty
Dundee manager Tony Docherty. Image: SNS.

“He felt as if it was time for him to spread his wings and become a manager, but he’s very experienced in terms of Scottish football.

“I obviously know Stuart Taylor very well. He was a colleague here, and I’m looking at a team that has performed well so far in the Premiership.

“They have adapted really well to it I think, and they certainly look different compared to the team that was here two years ago in their style.

“It will be a tough game, I have no doubt about that.”