He’s had to pick Celtic loanee Leo Hjelde off the floor – and Ross County manager John Hughes says full-time referees could help the Scottish game.

The Staggies lost 1-0 on Saturday against St Mirren courtesy of a Jamie McGrath penalty late in the second half. There was controversy surrounding that spot-kick after Collin Quaner went down easily under Hjelde’s challenge.

Celtic v Hibernian - Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership

The Celtic loanee was on the wrong side of a decision. (Photo by Rob Casey/SNS Group via Getty Images)

Hughes admits the young defender, on loan from Celtic, has been left devastated as he calls for full-time referees: “I’ve had to pick him up off the floor because Leo felt there was a real injustice.

“We had to pick him up but that is part of football. It was never a penalty kick and everybody can see that. You have to ask the referee why he gave it and I don’t know what he’s seen to give it. But that’s football.

“We all make mistakes. I have made so many since working here. So that’s life but what you do is pick yourself and get on with it. That’s what Leo has to do and he has trained well since then. That’s part of the learning process for him but I don’t think he did anything wrong.

Ross County v St. Johnstone - Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership

Backing his man. (Photo by Sammy Turner/SNS Group via Getty Images)

“I think it was (Aberdeen boss) Derek McInnes who said it, the referees need a hand. We are all in the game together and referees and officials all need a hand. I would say full-time. I am only talking through my experience of being a part-time footballer, when I went full-time and was doing it day in, day out you became a better footballer.

“You become a better athlete because you are training every day. For our brand in Scotland and where we want to go, the referees have to go full-time. But it is done and dusted, forget it. Let’s get down to training, we have big games coming up.”

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