KENNY Black fully expects Ross County to hold their own in the SPL this season but insists Motherwell will be out to spoil the party when they unveil the First Division Championship flag at Dingwall on Saturday.
With the opening day of the SPL sandwiched in between ’Well’s Champions League tie against Panathinaikos, many feel this gives the Staggies an ideal opportunity to get their campaign off to the perfect start.
However Steelmen assistant boss Black assures fans they will not be taking their eye off the ball when they make the long trip north this weekend.
“In reality the season kicks off on Saturday and it is not getting lost on us,” he said.
“You can get caught up in the European thing but the reason we are here is because of our league form last season and we have to remember that.
“It is really important we get off to a positive start and the Ross County game is something we have been thinking about.
“We have managed to see them a couple of times in pre-season.
“I think County will have a decent season. They are a good club and are well run and they have recruited very well during the close season.
“But we are determined to go up there and get the three points, and start the season on a high like we did last year.”
The 48-year-old is hoping for a sell-out crowd at Dingwall boosted by the fact County have offered to meet the costs of Motherwell supporters buses heading up.
And their tight ground he believes should generate a cracking atmosphere.
He continued: “It’s their first game in the SPL and I would not be surprised if it’s a full house on Saturday.
“I’ve been there many times and I’m sure it will be a great atmosphere.
“They will be unfurling the flag and looking to start the game in a positive manner.
“They have good players with SPL experience which will help them. Ross Tokely and Grant Munro are SPL proven players and manager Derek Adams has brought in former Dundee United player Mihael Kovacevic.
“Colin McMenamin knows where the goal is so they have the basis of a good squad.
“For them and for us it is a big occasion and it’s a long way to come back down the road without anything to show for it.”
Black knows the importance of getting their SPL campaign off to a good start but has tempered expectations they can finish second, one placed higher than last season, with Rangers out the league.
He points to the fact the club have got an even smaller first-team squad than last season with the emphasis very much on the younger players stepping up to the mark.
“We will be looking to finish as high as we can this season but know it’s going to be difficult,” he said.
“I think starting off well last season gave us some momentum. We had a couple of wee blips as every team does. But by the end of last season we had gathered enough points at the start to secure a European place.
“The reality is when you look at the players we lost in the summer and what we have brought in we are probably not as well prepared as we were last year.
“So it is up to the younger guys in the squad to step up to the plate and they will have every opportunity to impress. We will need them between now and the end of the season.”
He added: “We are fortunate last season that we didn’t have many major injuries except for Steven Saunders and Stephen Craigan for a time. It is going to be even more important this season to keep them all fit.”