Ross County are a point off a European spot, a gap that has been narrowing for months. Their last six games have seen wins over St Johnstone, Motherwell, St Mirren and Aberdeen, a draw with Hearts and a solitary defeat, at Celtic Park.
County were points adrift at bottom of the table as recently as December, having picked up just three points from their opening 10 games. They are now a team on what looks like an inevitable march to European football next season. So yes, we have a proper job to do on Sunday.
In the event Celtic emerge from season 2021-22 as champions, two added-time goals at Dingwall can be regarded as having an enormous bearing on the outcome. In December, with Celtic drawing 1-1 and reduced to 10 men, Tom Rogic dinked a cross high into the County six-yard box, where Anthony Ralston rose, salmon-like to head home in the 97th minute of play.
Celtic went into that round of fixtures four points behind, the prospect of further slippage felt ominous with so many difficult fixtures ahead. The remarkable recovery told us lots about this group of players and their never-say-die attitude.
The other significant game at Dingwall was, of course, Newco’s visit there a month later. I watched the highlights that night, County were poor, conceded three and could have shipped a few more. Newco should have won the game comfortably, but a combination of lax defending and dreadful goalkeeping kept the match alive until County conjured up a 96th minute equaliser.
History is made in moments like these. News that Josip Juranovic is missing for the game gives Anthony Ralston his Dingwall stage again, horses for courses, leaps to mind. Just as important will be the fitness of Giorgos Giakoumakis. The Greek scored his second hattrick of the season in the aforementioned recent County defeat to Celtic – another horse for the County course.
Expect the pitch to be hard, bumpy and probably trained on today. Defending will need to be assured, passing from the back will be more risky than normal. Still, Celtic will travel with a point to prove. Expect another away win.