Match preview: Ross County return to Premiership action against high-flying Hibernian
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After a break in the league programme for the opening rounds of the Betfred Cup group stage, Ross County switch their focus back to the Premiership with the visit of Hibernian this afternoon.
Hibs have been one of the stand-out sides of the season so far, sitting third in the Premiership table and winning all of their Betfred Cup group matches to this stage.
County meanwhile only picked up three points from their last five league games, and are now in the middle of an extremely congested league outside of the top four sides.
So the Staggies will be keen to get a result to kickstart their push away from their rivals, but will have to keep a close eye on the league's top scorer Kevin Nisbet if they are to be successful in Dingwall.
Ross County: Callum Morris is unavailable after being forced off early in the Betfred Cup group match against Hibernian on Tuesday with a calf issue.
Ross Draper will also miss out against Hibs with a similar issue despite featuring against Rangers, after suffering a setback in his recovery.
Josh Reid continues to isolate after returning from Scotland Under-19s duty, while Ross Doohan and Stephen Kelly should return to the squad after playing for Scotland Under-21s if their Covid-19 tests come back negative.
Hibernian: Jack Ross has several players missing from his squad this afternoon, with Lewis Stevenson both Drey Wright both out injured.
Scott Allan is still on the sidelines with an on-going health issue, while Josh Doig is in a similar position to Josh Reid in having to isolate after Scotland Under-19s duty.
Joe Newell and Jamie Murphy could return to the squad after struggling in recent weeks, while Alex Gogic, Ofir Marciano, Ryan Porteous and Paul McGinn have all returned to Easter Road after international duty.
Ross County: won 2–1 at home against Arbroath, drew 3–3 away at Montrose (won 5–4 on penalties), lost 2–0 away at Rangers, lost 3–0 at home against Aberdeen, won 1–0 away at St Johnstone.
Hibernian: won 1–0 away at Forfar Athletic, won 2–1 away at Cove Rangers, won 3–1 at home against Brora Rangers, won 3–2 at home against Hamilton, lost 3–0 away at Celtic.
Head-to-head (all competitions)
Ross County 7
Last five meetings
Hibernian 3–0 Ross County – Premiership, Wednesday, February 12, 2020
Ross County 2–1 Hibernian – Premiership, Wednesday, December 4, 2019
Hibernian 2–2 Ross County – Premiership, Saturday, October 26, 2019
Hibernian 3–2 Ross County – League Cup, Saturday, August 19, 2018
Ross County 1–1 Hibernian – Premiership, Saturday, April 7, 2018
Ones to watch
Ross County: Jermaine Hylton – the summer signing from Motherwell has shown flashes of some really good play in his first few matches in County blue.
After starting both of the club's recent matches in the Betfred Cup, it appears as if the 28-year-old will become an important part of the team in a connecting role for the side's attacking threats.
Once he builds a stronger understanding with the likes of Billy Mckay and Ross Stewart, the Staggies could be very dangerous indeed going forward, and if that can happen as soon as this afternoon there will be no complaints in Dingwall at all.
Hibernian: Kevin Nisbet – the Premiership's top scorer has hit the ground running in Edinburgh after a summer move from Dunfermline Athletic.
Seven goals in all competitions this season has been a welcome return for the 23-year-old, who has made the difference in matches more often than not when finding the net.
Nisbet's partnership with Christian Doidge in attack has been a lethal one so far, so they will need to be stopped at all costs for County to claim a result in Dingwall.
Ross County manager Stuart Kettlewell's pre-match thoughts
"There are one or two players who were there last season and had a bit of criticism, who are now performing really well for Hibs.
"It just shows you that if you can strike up that balance, get an understanding in your team and a bit of confidence instilled in you by the manager, the results will be an indication of a good unit. There are good individuals, but overall there aren't too many weaknesses in their team.
“From the games I have watched they have quite a steely determination about them, but they have added goals and they have a partnership up top which is a bit of a thing of the past, as a lot of people now play with a lone striker and two wide players.
“They have been a team that has set their stall out to form a partnership with Kevin Nisbet and Christian Doidge, and it seems to have clicked so far.
“To counter that, their work ethic is brilliant across midfield. Having received a bit of criticism in the early parts of last season, they have tightened up at the back and most of that probably comes from being a solid unit.”