Terry Butcher has scoffed at reports that his Inverness Caledonian Thistle side have suffered a slump in form.
Inverness had only lost to Motherwell and Celtic before the winter break before suffering two defeats in four days. But their League Cup semi-final loss to Hearts came after a penalty shoot-out and they were seconds away from taking a point from finalists St Mirren in Paisley on Wednesday.
Butcher has been satisfied with their performances and was further boosted by keeping key players such as Billy McKay and Andrew Shinnie during the transfer window, despite receiving some deadline-day offers.
And Butcher will travel to Kilmarnock for the William Hill Scottish Cup fifth-round clash in defiant nature. “The mood’s been very good and I’m really disappointed with some of the press reports about a dip or a drop in form,” he said. “These people haven’t been anywhere near the games because anyone who saw us on Saturday, and particularly against St Mirren on Wednesday, would say these boys are doing all right.
“They are playing well, we just haven’t got the results, especially on Wednesday, we didn’t get the result our performance deserved. It’s not a drop in form by any standards and the players will laugh at that because they are playing good football.
“Some of the football we played on Wednesday was some of the best of the season. We will just keep going, there’s nothing wrong with the players’ morale or hunger and desire. We have come back and played three games and played very, very well and only lost one if you consider one was on penalties.”
Butcher is looking to overcome the cup heartache at Easter Road by reaching the last eight of the Scottish Cup. “The cup tie is intriguing us because it’s a real good chance to roll our sleeves up and get stuck in and see if we can make progress in this cup,” he said. “We missed out on a final, it was good to get to a semi-final and all the boys know they can handle a semi-final and all that comes with it. So we want to get there again.”
Kilmarnock manager Kenny Shiels, who took his side to League Cup glory last year, is aware that Caley will be a tough nut to crack this afternoon.
“There’s 16 teams left in the competition and there are 16 teams who think they can win it,” he said. “It’s a tournament steeped in and rich in history of small clubs going to Hampden, and I’d like us to be one of them.
“Queen of the South went to the final, Gretna went to the final. If they had gone out with a mindset that they can’t win it, then they wouldn’t have got to the final. But it’s a long way away, we have got to try and get through Inverness and everyone knows how well they are going.”