Scottish Daily Mail

GARDYNE’S FOCUS IS ON TOP-FLIGHT SURVIVAL

- By ALASDAIR FRASER

MICHAEL GARDYNE admits the Ross County players are fighting for their very futures in the game amid the Premiershi­p survival scrap. The on-loan Dundee United attacker (right) believes the fraught, four-way relegation battle could prove a make-or-break moment for many individual top-flight careers. His own Tannadice prospects next season could be enhanced by the departure to Celtic of Gary Mackay-Steven and Stuart Armstrong, but Gardyne — now on his third spell in Dingwall — is concerned only with Ross County’s recovery. Three victories on the trot have ignited their season and the former Celtic youth said: ‘Everyone is playing for their futures and we want to keep Ross County in this division. ‘I want to play at the highest level I can and, like so many other lads here, who are out of contract in the summer, I have to do well and impress the manager. ‘I’ve not heard much from Dundee United — Ross County is my only focus right now. ‘To win four in a row would be massive but all we’ve done is get ourselves into a position where we are back in amongst the other (relegation­threatened) teams. There is a lot still to be done. ‘If we can keep the run going, we will see where we are come the split — but the games after then will also be crucial.’ Partick Thistle, who visit Dingwall today, are one of County’s recent victims and, yet again, the potential six-point swing this afternoon could have a huge bearing on final league placings. Gardyne admitted: ‘With us getting a good result at Partick a couple of weeks ago, they will be desperate to put one over on us. ‘They responded well to losing to us by winning at Tannadice and I am sure this will be a game where you will see two teams going for the victory.’ Meanwhile, Thistle defender Conrad Balatoni has revealed how group therapy helped his team bounce back from that 3-1 capitulati­on at home to County last month. ‘They were hungrier than us the last time we played,’ he admitted. ‘You could see they were up for the battle and the fight and, for some reason, we weren’t. ‘Teams can have bad days and that was a really bad one for us. It certainly wasn’t nice, so this could be payback if we beat them. ‘There were a few home truths told after that match. Exactly what was said will remain in the dressing room. For a healthy dressing room, you sometimes need to get things off your chest. ‘As a team, we just weren’t working well enough together but, having spoken about it after that loss to County, I think we’re all on the same page now and that will stand us in good stead for the future. ‘We were going through a bad run of form and I think the boys just wanted to say what they were thinking. ‘It has helped a lot of the players. Sometimes it’s not nice to hear these things but everyone has taken it on board.’

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