JOHN Hughes admits he froze in fear before Richie Foran escaped with a booking for a two-footed tackle on Hibs’ Sam Stanton.
The incident just after the hour-mark in last night’s dour stalemate put memories of Sunday’s two red cards against Dundee United coursing through the minds of all in the Caley Thistle camp.
Foran, who would have missed the Celtic Park showdown, took only a booking and is now a certainty lead his team out for Sunday’s historic first major national cup final appearance. Hughes was just relieved to come through the inconveniently timed fixture with no fresh fall-out.
The Inverness manager admitted: “I’m glad that’s out of the way. It was definitely advantage Aberdeen, that’s for sure. They get a couple of knocks on Saturday they have time to recover. We get knocks tonight and we could be struggling.
“Thankfully we come through unscathed. Aaron Doran is a wee bit tight but should be okay. That’s important.
“And it’s worked out for us because the two players sent off on Sunday, Marley Watkins and Greg Tansey, would have missed the final.
“With Richie’s tackle, your heart is in your mouth. In the dressing room before the game, I’m saying to the boys take it easy, don’t do anything stupid, stay on your feet.
“You definitely want Richie there – Billy Mckay needs that foil up front. We’re injury-free and ready to go on Sunday.”
For opposite number Terry Butcher, the Foran incident stoked a similar reaction.
The pair were a double act at Motherwell and Inverness and the bond remains close.
Butcher, sending heartfelt good wishes to his previous club ahead of Sunday, stressed: “It was a tame tackle for Richie, wasn’t it? It is usually much more obvious than that.
“In one respect I’m thinking ‘go on, produce a red’. But no, I wouldn’t have wanted to see that. I wouldn’t want a player to be deprived of a final. Given the two reds on Sunday, I think every Caley Thistle fan and player was hearts in mouth.”
Butcher admitted the contest was grim, despite taking heart from the clean sheet.
He added: “It was a brutal football match. Offensively there is plenty to think about.”