Inverness manager John Hughes admits he has missed former club Hibernian during their top-flight absence – but believes the rest of Scottish football shares his feelings.
Caley Thistle take on Hibs at Easter Road tomorrow in the William Hill Scottish Cup quarter-finals just as the Leith side’s Ladbrokes Championship challenge has crumbled following three consecutive defeats.
But they have already beaten Premiership teams Aberdeen, Dundee United, St Johnstone and Hearts this season and Hughes feels the League Cup finalists belong in the top division. “We’re up against a good team,” he said. “We’re up against an SPL team. We have missed them.
“Their rightful place is in the SPL and they have SPL players. We have to be at it to make sure we stay in the cup.
“I feel for Hibs because it looks like they are going to be in the play-offs. I’m honest enough to tell you that, having played for the club and managed the club, it’s an SPL club.
“It has to be back in the SPL. Scottish football has missed Hibernian, we have missed Rangers. You cannot have your top clubs, your top-supported clubs, playing their football in the First Division.
“Listen, you get relegated, you have to take your medicine, we all understand that. What’s happened to Rangers, we all understand that.
“But I’m massively for the bigger league. We have to look at the brand of Scottish football.
“When you are going to a bigger league, Hibernian and Rangers certainly come into that. They have been sorely missed.”
Hughes, who hopes to have James Vincent and Josh Meekings back in his injury-hit squad, added: “It’s going to be a cracking game. They have some real good players and we are not too far away. We have just maybe been trying too hard at times and one or two things have not been coming off for us but hopefully on Sunday it just might click.”