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Ross County boss delighted with on loan Celtic defender's display


By Will Clark

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Ross County manager John Hughes has again talked about the importance of mental strength between now and the end of the season.

Picture - Ken Macpherson, Inverness. Ross County(3) v Kilmarnock(2). 06.03.21. Ross County's Leo Hjelde scores to go 2-1 ahead.
Picture - Ken Macpherson, Inverness. Ross County(3) v Kilmarnock(2). 06.03.21. Ross County's Leo Hjelde scores to go 2-1 ahead.

The Staggies boss has in the past talked of needing to approach every match like it is a cup final, saying his players must relish that challenge and rise to the occasion.

Victory over Kilmarnock has given County the advantage in the fight to avoid relegation from the Premiership, where Leo Hjelde was a particular example of the approach Hughes is after.

After seeing a dubious penalty decision go against the Celtic loanee the previous week against St Mirren, Hughes had taken the decision to protect the 17-year-old and take him out of the firing line.

As a result, Hjelde started the game on the bench, but was called upon when Carl Tremarco was forced off.

Hjelde took some time to get up to speed after coming on, but played a good second half that included a first senior goal and some backs to the wall defending as County saw out a 3–2 victory.

“Carl’s done his hamstring – it’s a nightmare – but Leo came on and got his goal, he’s got massive things in front of him,” Hughes explained.

“He won’t be far away from Celtic’s first-team when he goes back.

“This will do him the world of good. Training and playing with men, getting battered about and coming back for more. He’s got more in the locker.

“Right from now until the end of the season, it’s about mental pressure and how you handle it. Does it affect you?

“I’m massive on the mental side of things, it’s the brain that gets your motor going. Concentrate on the process, forget the outcome.

“I say you’re on the pitch the first 45 minutes, you might touch it for about half a minute, 15 or 20 times, so what are you worried about? I don’t know if they take it on board. It’s a challenge, you’ve got to embrace it and I think they did that.”


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