The loss of Ross Stewart to Sunderland and Josh Reid to Coventry City would have rocked most SPFL teams – and Ross County deserve credit for handling it says John Hughes.

Ross County survived on the final day of the Scottish Premiership season with a 2-1 win over Motherwell. Hughes arrived as manager in December, taking over from Stuart Kettlewell and he has completed his task of obtaining safety. But the club were hit with two body blows on the park in January, star striker Stewart going to Sunderland.

Sunderland Announce New Signing Ross Stewart

Stewart’s move to Sunderland was tough to take. (Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images)

Academy product Reid departed for Coventry City too , and while good for the club off the park, Hughes said the squad were tested: “I knew it was going to be a hard shift. What a lot of people miss is Josh Reid went to Coventry and Ross Stewart went to Sunderland.

“Ross Stewart was a big, big player for Ross County. It was a big, big decision to sell him, especially in the position we were in. We had horrendous injuries too so for the boys to do it with the things that went against them, all credit to them.”

Hughes is out of contract in Dingwall, having only signed a deal until the end of the season. But talks will begin with chairman Roy MacGregor on keeping him in the Highlands: “Everything, honestly, has been on hold. Even down to the pitch, in case we had to go into the play-offs.

Ross County v St. Johnstone - Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership

Moving things forward now. (Photo by Sammy Turner/SNS Group via Getty Images)

“I have to speak to the chairman and that means all the players will be away. But it’s not all my decision, we have to sit down and have a real talk about where we want to go and how we want to do it. It has to be planned strategically for the best of Ross County. And then the budget comes into that. That’s not a problem to me.

“In all my time in football I have never worked out of budget. One or two players will come and one or two players will go, that’s football. I’ll be back up there tonight and we’re in tomorrow for a Covid debrief. I will be sitting down with the chairman and I will be up there for a couple of weeks. It’s important I do that.”

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