ON THE eve of his old club Hibernian’s visit to Dingwall in the Scottish Cup, Ivan Sproule last night made a surprise departure from Ross County in order to return to Northern Ireland.
Sproule’s last match for County saw him sent off for a reckless tackle in a 2-1 defeat by St Mirren on 17 November and he was suspended for the fourth-round clash with Hibs. The 32-year-old winger, who has won 11 caps for Northern Ireland, scored eight goals in 24 games for County after leaving Hibs for a second time in January. A club statement read: “Ross County Football Club have mutually agreed to terminate the contract of Ivan Sproule with immediate effect due to personal and family reasons and his desire to return to Northern Ireland. Ross County would like to warmly thank Ivan for his contribution to the club as a player and wish him and his family all the very best for the future.”
Melvin de Leeuw insists Ross County have to keep 11 players on the park for 90 minutes to give them the best possible chance of beating Hibs.
The Dutch forward had put the Staggies 2-1 up against Hearts in the Scottish Premiership encounter at Tynecastle last week before skipper Richard Brittain was sent off, with the Jambos fighting back to grab a draw with a late goal.
The previous week, defender Steven Saunders was dismissed along with Sproule in County’s league defeat by St Mirren in Paisley.
The 25-year-old, who signed for County in the summer after leaving SC Cambuur, is hoping that is the end of the red cards for the Highlanders. He said: “Offensively, it was good [against Hearts] and we did well until the red card.
“After that it was difficult. We tried hard and the chances were coming for us and we were unlucky with a point. But if we had played with 11 for the whole game I think we would have had three points.
“The week before we had two sendings off and it is hard to score then or to go forward. We want to win the games and sometimes we go over the line. You then give a choice to the referee. Not every yellow card is always a yellow card but we must be careful that we don’t have a sending off every match. We must try to play with 11 men on Saturday and go after the win.”
Derek Adams’ side are without a victory in four games and sit tenth in the table with 11 points.