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Hughes wants to replicate Scottish Cup success with Inverness Caledonian Thistle at Ross County

By Alasdair Fraser

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John Hughes admits his great dream is to emulate his heady Caley Thistle success at Ross County.

Preparing for tomorrow night’s Scottish Cup derby in Dingwall, the Staggies’ boss reflected on past league and cup heroics at Inverness, while setting his gaze on future success with County.

While passage to the last 16 would be huge for the hosts, their priority remains top-flight survival.

Hughes, though, recalled the thrill of winning the Scottish Cup with Caley Jags in 2015, stressing: “First and foremost, it was remarkable. I was lucky, I landed on my feet with one or two right good players, some of whom went on to bigger things.

“It was just a matter of putting my style of play on it and giving one or two guys a chance, like Ryan Christie and Liam Polworth.

“We probably did it with the lowest budget in the Premiership, but the bigger achievement was the league, finishing third, with such limited resources.

Ross County manager John Hughes lifted the Scottish Cup with Highland rivals Caley Thistle in 2015. Picture: Ken Macpherson
Ross County manager John Hughes lifted the Scottish Cup with Highland rivals Caley Thistle in 2015. Picture: Ken Macpherson

“It was a credit to a great bunch of boys.

“I was only the one guiding them. You reminisce about great days and I still look at the photographs now and then.

“But wouldn’t it be great to do it with Ross County?

“Can you come back up to the Highlands and do it with the Staggies? That’s my game, that’s my goal. We’ve a real desire to get the job done on Friday and see where it takes us.”

It will be the first derby in the fixture’s 27-year history with no fans, but live television and competitive instincts should add frisson.

Hughes is blunt in accepting the favourites’ tag, saying: “We’re looking forward to it. It has come at a right good time for us, a real competitive game against our local rivals.

“The pressure is on us being the Premiership club. Inverness have nothing to lose. It will be their cup final.

“We have to embrace that and play our style of football.

“But our lads have played under that kind of pressure in the relegation battle since I came to the club and we’ve had some great victories.”

Hughes, who sent good wishes to the recuperating Caley Thistle management of John Robertson and Scott Kellacher, added: “Neil McCann and Billy Dodds are two great football guys standing in. They’ve turned it around.

“Neil’s given them confidence. They have a bit of everything – physical presence, experience and youthful exuberance out wide. Scott Allan is a great signing. I certainly wouldn’t mind that kind of player at my club.

“But if you have great belief in what you do on the pitch, that’s where you do your talking. That’s what I’m looking for from our boys.”

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