Future looks bright after young Staggies make senior debuts
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Stuart Kettlewell says the younger members of Ross County’s squad gives him confidence that the club is moving in the right direction.
In recent weeks it has been those players that have come to the fore – with 22-year-old Oli Shaw scoring in four consecutive matches, Harry Paton emerging as a vocal member of a midfield comprising of similar ages with Charlie Lakin and Stephen Kelly, and 18-year-old Josh Reid continuing his run at left back.
Last time out against Stirling Albion, three more teenagers came off the bench as Matthew Wright and Adam MacKinnon entering the field of play alongside Ben Williamson, who had made his own senior debut at Elgin City earlier in the week.
At the same time, Billy Mckay and Michael Gardyne have both played important roles when fit, so Kettlewell is under no illusions that he needs to get the balance right – even though the signs are encouraging.
“The average age of our team against Livingston was 22,” Kettlewell said.
“We can go hard on these facts but it gives me confidence and the project we are working on.
“We look at the longevity of what we are trying to do and where we want to go.
“There are signs of boys in their early 20s showing they can compete and play at this level, which is a huge plus.
“I still need plenty from my senior players in educating the other guys as well as the impact they can have on the team.
“It is about getting the blend right, but it is good to see the boys coming through.”
At this stage of their development, time on the pitch is crucial for the teenagers who may not be likely to feature much in Dingwall.
That has seen MacKinnon make a temporary switch to Brora Rangers, and Kettlewell it is a move that could suit all parties.
“Managers in the Highland League have seen them and know they are decent players,” he said.
“They have all shown up well training with the first-team and I know there is the potential, and it is now about managing that next step in their career to try and get them as close to a Premiership level as possible.
“They need to be playing, because sitting on a bench is not going to make them better.”