Ross County are ready to take on Scotland’s finest as they start season against St Johnstone
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MALKY Mackay is urging Ross County’s players to revel in Premiership status this season and take pride in mixing it with Scotland’s big city clubs.
The Staggies tomorrow embark on their ninth top-flight season in 10 years, with the return of Hearts and Dundee bringing all of the nation’s traditional big-hitters back together for the first time in 17 years.
The Old Firm, New Firm and Tayside derbies will grab the spotlight, but Mackay will draw inspiration from how Saturday’s opponents St Johnstone, double cup winners last season, have repeatedly upset the apple-cart.
“I don’t think our record of being in the Premiership is something that should be lost on a club this size, given where we are and where we’ve come from,” the 49-year-old said.
“We are backed by Mr MacGregor, our chairman, and to be in the top-flight nine seasons out of 10 is an incredible feat.
“This season, the biggest teams in our country are back in the top division – and we are there as well. We have to embrace that because it is fantastic that Hearts are back in there, Dundee, who have a rich history, are back as well and then there are the teams in the league.
“It is going to be a tough task with the huge changeover at the club in coaching and playing staff, but I am looking forward to it. We have a group who want to do the best they can for the club and have a real pride in wearing the jersey.”
Mackay has spent the week plotting Saints’ downfall with his players, but carries huge respect for Callum Davidson’s side.
“Look at what St Johnstone did last season and the standards they’ve set repeatedly in the league,” Mackay said.
“There are obvious challenges up against clubs who have bigger budgets, squads and attendances, but we will do the best we can to make the club and the Highlands proud of us.”
Mackay confirmed Keith Watson will be captain this season.