Ross County forward Liam Boyce is relishing the start of his club’s League Cup defence and believes the new-look competition will be a boon to his team.
County will play two friendlies during this week’s pre-season training camp in Hungary, in preparation for their League Cup campaign which begins with a trip to Montrose on Saturday, July 16.
The competition, which County won last season with a 2-1 victory against Hibernian at Hampden in March, has been revamped with the introduction of a group stage which takes place before the start of the Premiership campaign on August 6.
Northern Ireland international Boyce is pleased to be starting the cup campaign earlier in exchange for fewer friendlies, and he said: “It’s good to have competitive matches so early in the season. We did well to win the cup last season but we want to defend it this year.
“Pre-season games are a bit weird for players because if we’re playing lesser teams, they see it as their cup final whereas we’re trying to get minutes and not get injured. With the amount of substitutions going on, when whole teams can get changed, it’s difficult to get some form going.
“With competitive games, everyone will be doing everything they can to win the group matches and it will be better for everyone. It will mean they come into the league season flying.”
County have returned to the Globall football park on the outskirts of Budapest, where they spent seven days last summer, and play a fixture against Hungarian top-flight side Paksi tomorrow, before taking on second-tier side Soroksar on Friday.
Boyce reckons the Staggies can benefit from playing against European opposition, and the 25-year-old added: “Last year Hungary was really good. The facilities are class and we’re playing against teams who play a different style of football. They’re a bit more relaxed and focused on keeping possession, so that’s another system to come up against and it gives us a Plan B.
“It’s also important for new players coming in to bond with the rest of the squad.”