Rocco Quinn counts minutes as Highland derby looms

Rocco Quinn says the form book will be thrown away for tonight's clash with Inverness.  Picture: SNS
Rocco Quinn says the form book will be thrown away for tonight's clash with Inverness. Picture: SNS
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Ross County midfielder Rocco Quinn insists Inverness’s fine early season form will count for nothing when the teams tackle Friday night’s Highland derby.

Caley Thistle enjoyed an excellent start to the campaign, which saw them sit top of the Scottish Premiership for several weeks before suffering consecutive defeats against St Johnstone and Partick Thistle to drop to second place. But they are only nine points ahead of Ross County who are in ninth after an erratic run of form.

Quinn believes Inverness deserve credit for their efforts so far but does not expect their previous performances to have any bearing on this game. He said: “They’ve had a great start to the season and need to be commended on that but, in saying that, form goes out the window when it comes to a derby game.

“You can have great form and win all your games and then lose it in the first five minutes of a derby game. I don’t think we can look too much into either team’s form. It’s all about what happens on the night.”

Inverness lost to Partick Thistle at the weekend, while Ross County suffered defeat at the hands of Kilmarnock.

Quinn added: “There’s no better stage. Both teams had poor results at the weekend. This will be a chance to really bounce back and what a way to do it by beating your closest rivals.”

The sides last met on the final day of last season when County triumphed 1-0 and Quinn admits he has been counting down the minutes to this encounter.

He said: “It’s probably the first fixture you look for on the fixture list when it comes out so I’m delighted it’s here and I’m raring to go for it.

“It’s nice to have a change from a weekend game. It’s a Friday night, a derby game under the floodlights, with a full house and the TV cameras there. I think it will be great, I just can’t wait for it.

“They are good games, very, very fast, very intense and really tough games to play in but they are really enjoyable too.”

Quinn says playing at Victoria Park gives County even more incentive to come out on top.

He said: “It’s always been the aim since I’ve been at the club to win our home games.

“You make sure you win your home games and take what you can get away from home.

“We’ve always prided ourselves on our home form.

“We want to put on a good show in front of the fans as well.

“You can see every week that we play here that they pack the place out.

“They’re fantastic and we would just love to give them three points and a good victory on the night.”

Inverness manager Terry Butcher believes the Highland derby matches any other he has been involved in for intensity and rivalry.

The former Rangers and England captain has played on some of the biggest stages in football, but even he is left breathless after his side meet Ross County.

Butcher said: “They are very close games, very tense games, very hard-fought games.

“At the end of the game you are like, ‘Phew, what a game that was’, irrespective of whether it was 0-0 or 3-1 or whatever.

“The 3-3 game stands out in your mind more than anything else.

“But they are wonderful spectacles of football. That intensity, you want to bottle it up and keep it in the Highlands because it’s special.

“I have played in, managed in and witnessed a few derbies up and down the UK and this one matches any one in terms of hatred, intensity and respect and everything else.

“Before the game everyone will have friendly rivalries, but come the game everyone hates each other. It’s just those 90 minutes, they are special.”

Inverness knocked County out of the William Hill Scottish Cup after a replay last season as well as meeting the Dingwall side in the top flight for the first time.

Butcher said: “Derby matches add spice to the season. We have had seasons where we haven’t had to play Ross County and I wouldn’t say it’s been flatter but it’s certainly great when you have the derby matches.

“Six last season was a lot, but hopefully we can have four this year and both of us finish in the top six again.”

Inverness only lost one of the six derbies last term, but it proved costly as defeat on the final day saw them miss out on a place in Europe.

Butcher said: “It will be a good pitch we play on this time. The last game of last season was like playing on a car park. That suits both teams and suits football. We have had a debate this week about who is the best passing team but both teams can pass the ball very well. They have some very good players who are very comfortable on the ball too.”

Butcher was in no mood to contemplate the impending close of his team’s first round of fixtures. “There will be no reflection before the game because it will be helmets on, visors down, bayonets fixed,” he said.