Ross County boss Stuart Kettlewell believes that his side still face a difficult match against Celtic on Sunday, despite the lack of crowd noise.
Even with Celtic Park lacking its colourful, passionate support, the Staggies manager isn’t anticipating an easy time of it against a wounded Celtic side in the Betfred Cup.
Speaking to the Press and Journal, Kettlewell said:
Sometimes when that crowd roars, the referee might be influenced by it and your players can be caught a bit apprehensive by the environment.
There is definitely a change to that, but you are still facing the same level of players and the same quality. There is still the same imagination in the final third.
I don’t try to compare it and say it’s a much easier task for us going there without a crowd. It’s still a very difficult one.
I need to make sure the players are braced for the quality they are going to play against.
Kettlewell’s side have to deal with the added complication of a spate of injuries to the first team. Tom Grivosti’s hamstring injury will rule him out, along with regular starters like Oli Shaw, Connor Randall, Carl Tremarco and Ross Draper.
The Ross County boss was also asked about the future of his opposition manager, and defended Neil Lennon against calls for the sack, calling questions of his future “ridiculous”:
I think Neil Lennon has done an amazing job. I get asked questions about my upcoming opponents on a weekly basis, but to take over the reins from Brendan Rodgers and do what he has been able to do has been massive.
He has got stiff competition as Rangers are flying. A lot of clubs are improving, the standards have probably gone up which makes the challenge even greater.
To throw into question what he’s doing or what he has done as a manager is a bit ridiculous. I’m fairly certain he will have a team set out for Thursday and Sunday fully intent on winning both games.
The Bhoys are seeking progression in a competition that has been part of the furniture in the Celtic Park trophy room in recent years.
Celtic, of course, are the reigning champions of the competition, overcoming Rangers in a gruelling final last year.
Heroics in goal from Fraser Forster and a winner from French centre-back Christopher Jullien were enough to continue Celtic’s clean sweep of domestic trophies.
The quadruple-treble is very much still on despite our recent wobbles, and it would represent a significant shock if Ross County were to topple Neil Lennon’s men.
After a demanding European tie against Sparta Prague, Lennon will be determined to take advantage of Ross County’s injury situation.
With all due respect, a loss against Ross County under any circumstances would be unacceptable to supporters, but with a large contingent of the Dingwall side missing through injury, there can be no excuse for not progressing.