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Draper helping Ross County to be cut above ahead of Highland derby in Scottish Cup against Inverness Caledonian Thistle

By Alasdair Fraser

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Whatever else happens in tonight’s Highland derby, Ross County should be a cut above rivals Caley Thistle – with a little help from midfielder Ross Draper.

In front of the live TV cameras, the Staggies will certainly be looking trim and dapper for the Scottish Cup contest.

Draper has become handy with the scissors and clippers since January’s renewed lockdown closed hairdressers in the Highlands.

With team-mates’ barnets growing out of control, the big ball-winner became chief stylist along with several other would-be barbers in the County squad.

Ross Draper gives striker Billy Mckay a trim – and is aiming to cut Caley Jags down to size tonight. Picture: Ken Macpherson
Ross Draper gives striker Billy Mckay a trim – and is aiming to cut Caley Jags down to size tonight. Picture: Ken Macpherson

Draper explained: “Obviously, with the barbers being shut down, the boys were desperately needing a trim one way or another.

“A few of us took it on – Iain Vigurs does mine, which is probably the worst. Leo Hjelde has also done a few. It’s a team effort really.

“We bought some clippers out of the kitty money to try and have a right good go at it, and the boys have done alright – there haven’t been too many shockers.”

Not everyone, though, has welcomed Draper’s advances with the blades.

He added: “Some of the boys don’t let you near them. Carl Tremarco is going a bit thin on top, so he hasn’t let anyone touch it. He knows he is one bad shave away from being a baldy!

“The lads who let each other do cuts are quite chilled about it, but there’s a few high maintenance boys who won’t let us touch it.”

With the weekly coiffure session out of the way, Draper has been able to turn a serious focus on tonight’s first derby meeting in two years.

Despite a division separating the sides, he is not about to take his former team lightly – and reckons even without spectators the clash will be as intense as ever.

Draper stressed: “It would be nice to have fans through the gates and it’s a shame they will be at home, but it will still be fiercely-contested.

“The one positive is it is actually going to be on TV for the fans to watch and get involved in that way.

“It would have been a much better occasion with fans in the stadium, a Friday night sell-out, with the supporters starved of a derby for the last two years.

“As players, we know the fans will be watching and our aim is to do all we can to get the club into the next round.

“I’ve watched a few of their games as they’ve been televised on a Friday night and they play some good football, especially with the new manager.

“He seems to have got what he wants out of them with some good results recently.

“It isn’t a good time to play them, given the form they are in.

“With Neil McCann coming in, there seemed to be a transition period but they seemed to have turned a corner in the league.

“He’s a good manager and they have players who can hurt us if we allow them to. We need to be aware of that, and we certainly won’t be taking them lightly.”

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