Match preview: Ross County hope to pull off shock result against reigning Premiership champions Celtic
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Whenever the Scottish champions come to Dingwall, the anticipation rises among Ross County fans, but that is going to be heightened all the more with this afternoon's encounter between the Staggies and Celtic being the first game this season that spectators will be allowed into. Stuart Kettlewell will hope that backing from the stands can inspire his side to a surprise result against the Hoops, who remain unbeaten through their opening four league matches. History shows that it is absolutely possible for County to take something from the game however, with it averaging out to once every three matches that the Dingwall side avoids defeat against the Glasgow giants.
Ross County: Carl Tremarco is suspended for the match having been sent off for a second yellow card at Livingston before the international break, which likely means a recall to the starting 11 for youngster Josh Reid. Forward Lee Erwin, so impressive in County's opening match or two, has left the club due to personal reasons, signing for Premiership rivals St Mirren. Kettlewell otherwise expects to have the same pool of players to pick from, with Tom Grivosti making progress in his comeback from injury but not yet ready to play after nearly a year on the sidelines.
Celtic: Republic of Ireland defender Shane Duffy is in line to make his debut after joining on loan from Brighton earlier this week. Star striker Odsonne Edouard will return to the squad after injury, while Nir Bitton will have his knee injury assessed to determine whether he is ready. Leigh Griffiths and Tom Rogic are closing in on a return from their own troubles, but may not be deemed ready to play against County and could instead be targeting Wednesday's game against St Mirren, while winger Mikey Johnston is definitely out after undergoing calf surgery.
Ross County: lost 1–0 away at Livingston, drew 1–1 away at St Mirren, lost 2–1 at home to Dundee United, drew 2–2 at home with Kilmarnock, won 1–0 away at Hamilton.
Celtic: won 3–0 at home to Motherwell, won 1–0 away at Dundee United, drew 1–1 away at Kilmarnock, won 5–1 at home to Hamilton.
Head-to-head (all competitions)
Ross County 3
Last five meetings
Celtic 3–0 Ross County – Premiership, Saturday, January 25, 2020
Ross County 1–4 Celtic – Premiership, Sunday, December 1, 2019
Celtic 6–0 Ross County – Premiership, Saturday, October 19, 2019
Celtic 3–0 Ross County – Premiership, Saturday, March 31, 2018
Ross County 0–1 Celtic – Premiership, Saturday, November 18, 2017
Ones to watch
Ross County: Ross Draper – after a slow start to the season that saw him get on the pitch for just 18 minutes in County's opening two matches, Draper has started every match since and surely this is a game where he has to shine if County are to take anything from it. The Staggies are unlikely to be able to outclass Celtic on the ball, and Draper is the man they might look towards to add a bit of steel to proceedings. His experience and defensive positioning will be crucial in protecting his defenders too, while the aerial presence Draper brings will be key to releasing pressure and getting the best results at set-pieces – at both ends of the park.
Celtic: Ryan Christie – the Inverness Caledonian Thistle youth graduate needs no extra motivation to play well against his former Highland rivals, and County bore the brunt of that when he put two past Nathan Baxter in the only meeting of the sides to take place in Dingwall last season. Factor in that he will be high on confidence after finding the net twice for Scotland over the international break, including the winning goal against the Czech Republic, and Christie will be a dangerous prospect once again this afternoon. The return of Edouard from injury will help him too, taking some of the defenders' focus away and giving him more space to operate in, as well as just being able to link up with one of Celtic's best players again.