Ross County squad need to show mental strength away at Celtic in Betfred Cup, says manager Kettlewell
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Stuart Kettlewell retains faith in the ability of Ross County’s young squad, but is demanding they show greater mental strength.
Approaching this Sunday’s huge League Cup test away to Celtic, the Staggies boss also denied he had “thrown players under the bus” last weekend as a form of deflection after poor results.
County will need a significantly better collective performance than they produced against 10-man Kilmarnock last Saturday if they are to avoid a beating in Glasgow’s east end.
“I’ve said often enough I’m more than happy to play young players, but we need to see that leadership and ability to deal with adverse situations,” Kettlewell stressed.
“We can’t shrink or hide behind someone else. That’s part of the learning curve for them. If I believe in them and think they are good enough to play, it’s not just on their ability, it’s on that emotional intelligence in dealing with any situation presented to them.
“We need to pick some of the younger ones up for Celtic Park, but there shouldn’t be much motivation required. They should be able to enjoy that experience.”
Kettlewell defended his stark criticism of the Kilmarnock performance, adding: “I realise the hard work it has taken from many people to get us where we are now.
“The emotion and passion from me after the game is genuine, not because I want to throw them under the bus or point fingers at other people to save my own back.
“I just believe we have an opportunity to do something good at this club. I feel we get good backing, the staff facilitate a situation where players can improve and evolve as a group.
“When we let ourselves down, I think it’s important you are told the truth. I don’t want to dance around it or give them a pat on the back. They need to know where they have come up short. That’s what I did, but I’m very clear in my thinking for what we need to do this week to improve on Sunday.”