sport

Butcher: Players are ready

Inverness manager Terry Butcher is confident his players will be fully focused on their historic 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 Scottish 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 the Global Energy Stadium on Saturday.

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 ever Highland derby in the Scottish Cup, the players know it's a very, 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 game 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.

"Previous history and the previous match, which we won 3-1, doesn't count. This stands alone, it's a one-off cup tie. It will be a cracking match, a cracking ground and a brilliant atmosphere.

"No-one has played in a Highland derby in the Scottish Cup. No-one has any experience of it. So what has happened before has no bearing.

"No matter what both teams have done this week, what the form is, what the history is, counts for nothing. How you go about it on the day is key to it.

"For me, no-one is the favourite. Ross County are at home but cup ties are major levellers."