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John Hughes looking forward to reacquainting himself with Brian Rice

By February 1, 2021No Comments

Ross County boss John Hughes will see a familiar face in an unfamiliar situation when the Staggies visit Hamilton on Wednesday night.

Accies boss Brian Rice was assistant to Hughes at Falkirk, Hibernian and Inverness before he took over at the Lanarkshire club in January 2019, following a spell as number two at St Mirren.

After a break following his departure from Raith in 2017, Hughes returned to football when he replaced Stuart Kettlewell at the Dingwall club in December and now he faces his old buddy in a crunch game.

County are one point ahead of Scottish Premiership  bottom side Hamilton but have played two games more.

Hughes said: “Me and Chipper (Rice) go back a long, long time and I am actually delighted that he became his own man.

“I am speaking more to him now that I am back in the game.

“I think Chipper (Rice) realised when I decided to take that break that I was wanting to get on with other bits and pieces of my life and he is his own man, you let him get on with it.

“But we always kept in touch and I always got an invite through to take a training session and all that stuff.

“And it just shows you how football is, now we are in opposite dugouts having spent so much much time together.

“No matter what happens on Wednesday night we will still be best of friends.

“We all know the importance of the game. From now to the end of the season they are all cup finals.

“To say it is a must-win – I wouldn’t put that pressure on the boys but we need to make sure that we take a right good performance to Hamilton.”

Hughes will be without striker Ross Stewart who signed for Sunderland for an undisclosed fee, reported in some media outlets as £300,000.

However, the County manager noted that injury had curtailed Stewart’s game time recently.

He said: “He is a massive loss but I have never had him since I have come to the club.

“He has played 20 minutes for me so everything we have done has been without him.

“It was a good bit of business for the club.

“I would rather have had him here for the rest of the season but the way it materialised, I have no qualms and I wish him all the best, as does the whole dressing room.”