The Tannadice boss described the diminutive attacker’s ability as “frightening” for his age, while expressing confidence in his maturity and keen understanding of the game.
“At 17, Gauld’s touch, awareness and ability is frightening,” McNamara stated. “I see him every day in training and I know what he’s capable of.
“The first question I was asked today [before the game] was about David Goodwillie not starting and Nadir Ciftci and Gauld coming in.
“But they have answered that and shown that they are ready. I thought Nadir, too, was crucial to how we played. He got the ball down under control to let the others support.
“Ryan is very young, so I don’t want to say too much, too soon. But he is streets ahead in terms of football knowledge and the rest of his game is coming.”
McNamara was delighted with all of his team, but reserved extra praise for his fluid front four after they tore open a traditionally solid County rearguard in Dingwall.
“We looked dangerous,” McNamara said. “If you look at the front four, despite Gauld’s youth, his decision-making and ability to make passes was excellent. Ciftci I thought was excellent at holding the ball for us. There were a lot of pleasing things.”
Ross County manager Derek Adams, without explanation, declined all interviews after the game.
There was a reluctance to lean on any excuses regarding refereeing decisions from County goalkeeper Mark Brown.
Instead, he pointed to County’s own failings in defeat.
“It’s hard to talk of positives,” he said, “but their goalkeeper had a couple of great saves. We hit the post twice and a had a couple of reasonably good shouts for a penalty. Although we know the goals we conceded weren’t good enough, I think there are positives. We battled back. At 4-0, it would have been easy on a wet, windy day just to chuck it and end up losing more goals.”