It’s been a fine campaign in the Ladbrokes Premiership for Ross County thus far, but the next five weeks will have a real impact on how the season turns out, and the Staggies will have to take to it without some key players.
Top scorer Liam Boyce is set to miss around four weeks with a broken hand, and Jim McIntyre’s side were dealt a further blow last weekend when Boyce’s attacking partner Craig Curran went off early on in the 2-0 loss to Inverness.
An early collision saw Curran depart the pitch with a head injury, but the length of his absence has yet to be confirmed.
Speaking this week, McIntyre said: “Craig is being assessed by a doctor, the good thing is it wasn’t a contact injury. It was an awkward fall, so we’re pleased about that.”
It’s a major blow for County, with games versus Aberdeen, Hearts and Celtic all coming up before the middle of February.
Boyce and Curran have combined to score 20 of the Staggies’ 36 league goals this term, but McIntyre hopes his side’s strength in depth can prevail.
Such has been the duo’s form that Brian Graham and Alex Schalk have been reduced to spending most of this season in supporting roles.
Graham has started just five league games this term, while Dutchman Schalk only made his first start in Boyce’s absence at Inverness on Saturday.
But boss McIntyre will be hoping that after sitting on the sidelines, his remaining front-men will be ready to step up: “They’ve (Boyce and Curran) scored 23 goals between them so that’s a hell of a blow but we have got Brian and Alex, who are good players and have been waiting patiently.”
“It’s up to them to take that opportunity,” the Scot added
Graham and Schalk’s first chance to impress comes this weekend in the Scottish Cup, where County head to League 1 leaders Dunfermline as 20/21 favourites for victory.
Staggies fans and indeed McIntyre will be hoping Graham and Schalk can make the most of their chance: “When the two strikers have been doing so well and you are sitting patiently on the sideline, you are waiting for an opportunity whether it’s loss of form or injury so those two have it and it’s up to them to make their mark,” stated the 43-year-old.
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