Inverness manager Terry Butcher is confident his players have forgotten their recent heroics and will be fully focused on their historic William Hill Scottish Cup clash with Ross County.
Caley Thistle have enjoyed one of the best weeks in their history with victories on the road against Celtic and Aberdeen putting them in the top three of the Clydesdale Bank Premier League. But local bragging rights and cup progression are now at stake as they make the much shorter journey to Dingwall.
Butcher is confident his players will come down from the highs of Parkhead and Pittodrie when they run out at Victoria Park today. The former England captain said: “When the draw was made, if it had been a lower-league club, then there was a grave danger of the players not approaching the game in the right frame of mind. But because it’s Ross County away from home, the first Highland derby in the Scottish Cup, the players know it’s a very big game and on the same level as the ones we have played before, if not higher.
“They have managed to put the Celtic and Aberdeen games to the back of their minds because they are history now and have no bearing on this game. It stands alone and it should be a cracker. The players are right up for it.”
Caley Thistle’s new-look team won the first SPL meeting between the local rivals with a 3-1 home victory in September despite the visitors having much more experience of the game, with several former Inverness players in their team. And Butcher feels their form will have no relevance in the latest encounter.
“A lot of our boys haven’t been there,” he said. “Only Ryan Esson and Richie [Foran] have been there before. I haven’t won there as Caley Thistle manager. I have got a draw there. But it was the same at Celtic Park last week and Billy McKay and the rest of the team turned that round.”
Butcher’s counterpart Derek Adams wants Ross County to emulate their Scottish Cup run of 2010 this season – starting with victory today. The Dingwall side reached the final a couple of years ago, taking high-profile scalps along the way, before losing to Dundee United at Hampden. Adams would love to see his side have another crack at silverware this time around but knows the visit of Caley Thistle is a tough opener.
He said: “We want to get to another final like we did in 2010. It was a difficult progression through the rounds and we had to beat the likes of Hibernian and Celtic on the way. We’ve got a tough one to start with against Inverness.
“It’s a tough hurdle but we’re in positive mood and we go into the game ready for them.”