DEREK ADAMS, the Ross County manager, is convinced his side have realistic ambitions of finishing in eighth place in the SPFL Premiership this season after emerging as one of the form sides of 2014.
The Dingwall club still have work to do to escape the relegation play-off position, but Adams is reluctant to limit their target to mere survival.
The County manager recruited heavily during the January transfer window, drafting in loan signings such as Blackburn Rovers' Jordan Slew, Cardiff City's Filip Kiss and Michael Tidser of Rotherham United. They have all helped to deliver a run of form during which County have lost just three times since the turn of the year.
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Every one of the Dingwall side's five remaining pre-split fixtures is against opposition from the top six, but Adams is confident of continuing the recovery in the last quarter of the season. He will send his side out against St Johnstone tomorrow.
"It's the run-in now and it's important we have players coming into good form," said the County manager, who is without Graham Carey and Alex Cooper due to suspension and Marc Klok, Darren Maatsen and Stuart Kettlewell because of injury.
"But we've done really well since January 1. If you analyse it, we are one of the real form teams in the league and we've been able to claw back a lot of points on certain teams. We've put ourselves in a position where I feel we can ask a question of ourselves - can we finish in eighth position? Seventh may be beyond us given that Hibs are eight points ahead, although you never know.
"It is good we have players who are coming into form at the right time, such as Richard Brittain. If you look at the amount of points we've taken since the New Year, we are fifth and were fourth, on form for a while. We've done well and we want to continue that form."
A St Johnstone team which has disrupted the form of Dundee United this week already will stand in the way of that tomorrow evening. The injury suffered by Kettlewell in the lead up to that match has been particularly painful for County given the positive impact the midfielder had against Partick Thistle in County's last league match.
"Stuart has been carrying an injury for a while and it has flared up again," said Adams. "I'm not sure yet exactly what the injury is. We still have to get to the bottom of it so I don't want to say too much. It's not ideal to have certain players missing, but we just get on with it. We have a good group of players who I am sure will be ready for St Johnstone."