Butcher set to make Hibs switch
Terry Butcher looks set to swap Inverness for Hibernian despite the continuing silence from both clubs over the future of the in-demand manager ahead of their Scottish Premiership meeting on Saturday.
Butcher, who was granted permission to speak to Hibernian over their managerial vacancy on Tuesday, is thought to have said his farewells at the Highland club on Friday afternoon after embracing captain Richie Foran following an address to the players.
In another potentially significant development, youth coach Duncan Shearer took training 24 hours after Butcher's assistant, Maurice Malpas, had stated he was fully focused on preparing the team for the Easter Road game.
Butcher left the Tulloch Caledonian Stadium on Friday afternoon without making comment to the waiting media, but it looks as though his successful stint at Inverness has come to an end.
Hibs stated on Tuesday that caretaker boss Jimmy Nicholl had been told he would take the team again on Saturday after stepping in for the 1-0 defeat by Motherwell on Sunday following Pat Fenlon's resignation.
And it appears Butcher will not be in the Caley Thistle dugout despite the lack of confirmation over his future.
The former England captain, who turned down a move to Barnsley in January, led Caley Thistle to their highest league placing of fourth last season and only missed out on a place in the Europa League when his under-strength team lost to Ross County on the final day.
Butcher took the team up from the First Division at the first time of asking in 2010 after failing to prevent them going down after taking over in January 2009 and last week he led Caley Thistle to a second League Cup semi-final against Hearts in two seasons.
They go into the game at Easter Road in third place in the table, four places above Hibs, after leading the way for the first two months of the campaign.
Hibs held their weekly media conference as planned on Friday afternoon but Nicholl, who played with Butcher at Rangers and had the former Motherwell boss on his backroom staff when he was manager of Raith Rovers, decided against attending.
Instead, defender Alan Maybury and midfielder Lewis Stevenson spoke about the situation despite not knowing any more information than those who were questioning them.
Maybury said: "I have been through this quite a few times now so I kind of know what to expect.
"It's the first time that we are playing against a team who we are chasing their manager, so that's kind of strange.
"But Jimmy Nicholl was told at the start of this week he would be in charge of the game so we have just prepared as well as we can. Ultimately the chairman will decide what happens from there."
Both players have been impressed with the job Butcher has done at Caley Thistle.
Stvenson said: "He has done a great job. We don't have the greatest record against them, especially up there. It's always a tough game.
"They are up there in the league for a reason. I don't think they get the credit for the football they play, they play good football."
Both also believe the new manager has been left solid foundations by Fenlon, who quit to remove the negativity surrounding his presence after fans protested following League Cup defeat by Hearts.
"There's a structure in place to really progress the club," Maybury said.
"Pat Fenlon spent a lot of time and effort reorganising a lot of things behind the scenes that maybe you guys don't see.
"He really changed the academy and progressed that, the scouting system, the infrastructure at the training ground has all been progressed.
"There was a big turnover of players in the summer and it's taken a bit of time to gel so whoever comes in it's really a case of trying to get the balance and squeeze a bit more out of the players. Everything else is in place."
Hibernian captain James McPake comes back from suspension for the clash as Liam Craig drops out.
Craig misses the game after being found guilty by a Scottish Football Association disciplinary panel of aiming a kick at Hearts forward Ryan Stevenson during Hibs' League Cup exit.
Sam Stanton (hip) and Tim Clancy (groin) have returned to training but are short of match fitness while Michael Nelson (eye socket) and Alex Harris (ankle) remain on the sidelines.
Right-back David Raven returns to the Inverness squad for the clash after a groin injury.
Winger Danny Williams is likely to drop out after suffering a leg knock in an Under-20 game with Rangers.
Midfield playmaker James Vincent remains out with a leg fracture.