An encounter against the unglamorous Highland club in their dinky Global Energy Stadium is wholly devoid of the pizazz and profile of what is to come for Celtic. Both with Saturday’s Parkhead-staged storied fixture that sees the ancient adversaries first league face-off this season and, three days later, the Champions League opener at home to no less than competition’s holders and football’s biggest brand. But the outcome against County will set the tone for Celtic’s week and Ange Postecoglou doesn’t need a second invitation when invited to see the meeting with Malky Mackay’s men as his immediate priority.
“Absolutely, absolutely. That was our message to the players at the weekend,” said the Celtic manager, in reference to his team’s record 9-0 flogging of Dundee United. “The most important game is the next one. You don’t want to be thinking about games that are two or three ahead and going into a game without the best intentions of playing good football and getting a good result.
“We want to perform at a good level and make sure that we get the job done against a difficult opponent. The most important game for us is this one. That will then give us the impetus to look at the next challenge. In this case, it’s Rangers, but if we look beyond Ross County and dismiss it then we haven’t had the ideal preparation to meet the challenges ahead.”
The Celtic manager will mix up his starting line-up for the jaunt to the Highlands to prevent fatigue. Giorgos Giakoumakis, Benjamin Seigrist, James Forrest, Anthony Ralston and Aaron Mooy could earn their first starts of the campaign, while newest arrival Sead Haksabanovic might get a short run-out. “I will make some changes for the game, yeah,” Postecoglou said. “I haven’t settled on how many yet, but the important thing is that we put out a team that is still strong enough to win. But we won’t get back until the early hours of the next morning, and have to factor in what is ahead at the weekend and beyond too.”