Stuart Kettlewell ‘won’t hide’ behind Ross County’s youth
Stuart Kettlewell remains confident his faith in young players will reap rewards despite Ross County’s worrying form.
The Staggies have recorded just one league win in their last 13 games but despite a difficult run of fixtures ahead, the 36 year-old manager wants his players to repay his faith.
Kettlewell said: “I won’t hide behind playing young players and statistics. I’m trying to promote young players and I still back them to play at this level.
“I have to find the guys that will step up to the plate in these extremely challenging games and surroundings — Parkhead, playing Rangers at home, going away to Pittodrie.
“There is no hiding place. I will pitch myself forward for it and I need to find others.”
County have the second youngest squad in the Premiership with an average age of just 25. Kettlewell was without the services of some seasoned campaigners, Iain Vigurs through suspension and Ross Draper with injury, and it showed against an experienced Kilmarnock side.
County were able to call on the services of Ross Doohan despite a coronavirus outbreak within the Scotland Under-21 squad. After returning from Greece, 11 players were forced to self-isolate but Kettlewell explained when the club received the green light for the young goalkeeper to play.
“Officially, we heard that something was happening on Friday night so Ross was socially distancing and isolating away from the group,” he said.
“It was confirmed to us at 11 o’clock before the game that he could definitely play in this game. I believe the SFA have looked back over their travel plans and itineraries so Ross was one of the guys who has been able to play. There was no disruption for us because we dealt with it accordingly.”
Kilmarnock deservedly claimed a 3-1 victory despite Stuart Findlay’s red card after only nine minutes – which the club will appeal.
Goals from Eamonn Brophy, Nicke Kabamba and Chris Burke solidified Killie’s position in the top six and Alex Dyer was delighted with the performance of Mitch Pinnock, who provided an assist and won a penalty.
He said: “Mitch is a very good footballer and he’s had to bide his time since he came here but he’s never once knocked on my door – he just works hard every single day and shows the quality he has.
“I needed to freshen things up and add some impetus to our play and he did that and, hopefully, he can keep doing it and stay in the team.”