Michael Gardyne determined to keep Ross County progressing
Ross County have already suffered a major setback in their quest to surpass last season's unprecedented achievements but midfielder Michael Gardyne is determined to keep the club progressing as they turn their attention to Saturday's Ladbrokes Premiership opener against Dundee.
County saw their Betfred Cup defence fail at the first hurdle after going out in the group stages following defeat at Alloa.
The Dingwall club also secured a record sixth-placed finish last season and Gardyne is looking to emulate that top-half finish.
The former Dundee United player said: "We are disappointed as a squad that we got knocked out of the cup we are holders of but this is a chance to put that to bed by getting off to a good start to our league campaign.
"Everyone looks forward to the start of the season and we have a good opportunity with a home game against a good Dundee side.
"You are always looking to do better than you did last season. Obviously it will be hard but we need to be aiming top-six again this season. That's where we want to be and we feel we are a big enough club to be there.
"We obviously had the disappointment of being knocked out of the cup, but there is still the Scottish Cup and we want to go on a good run in that one."
Marcus Fraser has rejoined the squad after missing the Staggies' Cup fixtures with a shoulder injury, but the right-back is unlikely to start due to a lack of match fitness.
Otherwise, boss Jim McIntyre has a fully-fit squad ahead of the Dark Blues' visit to Dingwall.
Dundee manager Paul Hartley will not put pressure on his team by declaring the top six as their target for season.
But the Dens Park boss is excited for the new campaign as his side look to keep entertaining and consolidating their top-flight status.
Dundee last season failed to emulate the top-six finish they achieved in their first campaign back in the top league and the arrival of Rangers will not make the task any easier.
But Dundee warmed up for their Premiership opener at Ross County with a 7-0 win over Forfar last week and Hartley has further added to his strikeforce by bringing in Faissal El Bakhtaoui, who hit 30 goals for Dunfermline last season.
When asked for his aim, Hartley said: "Finish as high as we can. I know that might sound stupid but this league's tough this year. Everybody has strengthened.
"We would like to get in the top six but it's not quite as easy as that. Hopefully we can keep making progress as a group. I feel we've got a talented squad, we are young, have a lot of energy and a lot of quality. I think we entertain, we play football the right way and hopefully we get some good results.
"We will have our disappointments throughout the season like any other team, but I have total belief in the group I have."
El Bakhtaoui could make his debut while Greg Stewart is in the squad following interest from Birmingham.
Nick Ross and Mark O'Hara could return from injury and Nicky Low is closing in on fitness following an ankle problem.