Motherwell and Livingston light the way as Stuart Kettlewell eyes top-six finish for Ross County

Co-manager raises his sights after tenth place last season

The ambition for Ross County co-managers Steve Ferguson, left, and Stuart Kettlewell is no longer simply to survive in the Premiership. Picture: SNS.
The ambition for Ross County co-managers Steve Ferguson, left, and Stuart Kettlewell is no longer simply to survive in the Premiership. Picture: SNS.

Stuart Kettlewell is refusing to bet against Ross County achieving a top-six finish as the Staggies aim to defy the odds yet again.

County finished in tenth place last season on their return to the Scottish Premiership and the bookmakers are predicting another tough campaign for the Dingwall side.

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But manager Kettlewell sees no reason his team cannot hit the jackpot and finish in the top half like Motherwell and Livingston did last season.

The County boss – whose side kick off the new season at home to Well tonight –said: “Last year our main focus was on staying in the league. Some people said it was a tough campaign last season but, from our point of view, it was job done. Now we’ve got aspirations to get higher up. We want to improve on tenth place.

“Livingston and Motherwell were great examples of teams punching well above their weight. And even during my ten years here at the club we’ve been able to defy the odds.

“I played in a team which finished fifth under Jim McIntyre. We won the League Cup too. So we believe we can defy the odds again and upset a few people along the way.

Meanwhile, Motherwell captain Declan Gallagher, pictured, aims to use their opening-weekend trip to Dingwall to further integrate his new team-mates following the challenges posed by coronavirus restrictions.

In his new role as skipper following the departure of Peter Hartley, Gallagher has aimed to take the lead in fostering team spirit in unusual circumstances.

But a four-hour bus trip and a stay in the Highlands ahead of Monday’s Scottish Premiership opener against Ross County will give summer arrivals Callum Lang, Nathan McGinley, Scott Fox, Ricki Lamie and Jordan White heightened exposure to the dynamics of Stephen Robinson’s squad.

“There’s been a big difference in the sense that the boys weren’t all together from the start,” Gallagher said.

“We had to train in separate pods to start with and even in the changing rooms things aren’t the same because of social distancing.

“There’s three different changing rooms throughout the stadium, so we are social distancing in there.

“For some of the new boys coming in, it’s maybe been a bit harder to start speaking to everyone right at the start, but slowly and surely we are getting there.

“You want to make sure they are all happy. I used to send them a text the day before they came in just saying if they needed anything or they wanted to speak about anything that I was here for them.

“It’s a good group of boys we have got here, and a lot of young boys, so everyone is quite quiet to start off with. With me being a vocal person and more experienced player, I have just been trying to get everyone together and get that team bonding the same as we had 
last year.”


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