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Youthful nature of Ross County squad is no excuse for poor run of Premiership results, says Paton

By Alasdair Fraser

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Harry Paton insists it is up to every Ross County player – young and old – to demonstrate their depth of commitment to the cause.

After last weekend’s meek capitulation against 10 men at Kilmarnock, manager Stuart Kettlewell let rip with a scathing assessment of where his team had fallen short.

Kettlewell challenged the players to take a long, hard look in the mirror after a performance he felt was characterised by an “unacceptable” lack of spirit and heart.

The setback came ahead of an incredibly challenging sequence of matches.

Harry Paton believes youth is no excuse for a lack of desire on the pitch. Picture: Ken Macpherson
Harry Paton believes youth is no excuse for a lack of desire on the pitch. Picture: Ken Macpherson

The Staggies face Celtic away on Sunday in the League Cup. Before Christmas, they will also play Rangers, Aberdeen and Celtic again in the league, with a crucial tussle with relegation-threatened Hamilton thrown in for good measure.

“We went over the Killie video and the bad points in the game,” Paton revealed.

“The boys all knew it wasn’t good enough.

“Desire is the baseline for every game you play.

“It is a competitive league and you need to pick up points in matches like that.

“That is where we should start and after that we can start to look at our passing and chances created. We need that desire from the whole team.”

County have again been depleted by injuries, leaving an average age of 22 at Rugby Park at the weekend.

Paton’s age falls exactly on that mean figure and he is clear that lack of experience should be no excuse for falling short in terms of attitude and application.

“I know part of my game is being a leader, helping the boys around me and helping the team,” he stressed.

“We were a really young team at Kilmarnock, but that shouldn’t have affected us. Experience might have a positive effect, but whichever 11 players are used on the pitch, we really need them all to perform.

“We moved the ball from side to side well but we never really penetrated. We weren’t ruthless going forward.”

Beating Celtic, as County have done memorably in the past, would obviously be the perfect medicine.

“We are not favourites to win that game but we are going to give it everything we have,” the Canadian said.

“We are away from home but we will go there to compete and try to get through this round.

“It will be tough, but we will see what happens. In games like this you have to be better than the guy you are up against.

“You need to take that into every game and I know if I am better than the other guy I am playing against, then that will give the other boys a lift.”

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