Hughes lays down Caley challenge
Inverness manager John Hughes has challenged his players to take their game against St Mirren by the scruff of the neck and end their patchy run of form.
Caley Thistle have only won one out of their last seven games, against Partick Thistle, and have scored just twice in that spell.
Hughes feels many of the blows have been self-inflicted and that they are sometimes not showing enough confidence in possession.
And he wants them to kick-start their European charge at home to the Paisley side on Saturday after they fell five points behind fourth-placed Dundee United with a 2-1 midweek defeat at Tannadice.
"It seems to be, when we play well, we are losing matches, and when we don't play as well, we win a match, ie Partick Thistle, although we weren't bad in the second half," Hughes said.
"Against Motherwell and Dundee United, we played some nice stuff and created chances and you're a little bit bewildered. We just need a break.
"We have done remarkably well this season getting to a cup final and qualifying for the top six but we are greedy and we want to cement a European spot.
"There is so much to play for. It should be inspiring to try to take the team into Europe for the first time in its history.
"Let's give it a right go. Our decision-making is going to have to be better than it was at Tannadice.
"We beat ourselves again the other night and that's been a recurring theme. Sometimes we are too cavalier and leave ourselves open, and the other thing we have pinpointed, when we lose a goal, for the next 15 minutes we seem to be vulnerable.
"Just because you lose a goal, you can still win a football match. You need to stand up and be determined, and make sure that's the only one you lose."
The Highland side won their last home game, against Partick Thistle, but Hughes is still looking for improvement from that game.
"You just feel there is a little bit of trepidation in their play to go and express themselves," he said. "That shouldn't be the case.
"You want to be the best player on the pitch, you want to get on it and show the supporters that: 'Wow, he's a right good player, look at this guy'.
"I'm more determined now to win the remaining eight games of the season than I've ever been."
Inverness will assess captain Richie Foran's knee problem. The Irishman has a floating piece of bone in his knee and might need an operation, but he could keep playing through the issue in the coming weeks.
Full-back Carl Tremarco is back from suspension but Aaron Doran is doubtful after missing two games with a hamstring injury.
Skipper Jim Goodwin admits it is a "nervy time" for him and all the rest of the St Mirren players who are out of contract at the end of the season.
Danny Lennon's struggling side have won one game in their last 10, their most recent defeat at home to St Johnstone on Tuesday night keeping them in the relegation play-off spot, two points behind 10th-placed Partick and three behind Kilmarnock at Ross County.
The uncertainty over which division the Paisley club will be playing in next season means all potential deals with players such as Goodwin, Marian Kello, Chris Dilo, Paul McGowan, Darren McGregor and David van Zanten are on hold.
Ahead of the trip to Inverness on Saturday, the 32-year-old Irishman said: "My contract is up on May 30 but with the way things are with the team, the club haven't approached anyone.
"They have tied up a couple of the young boys (on new contracts) but myself and others in the dressing room are desperate to find out what is happening.
"It is a nervy time for us all.
"Some of us have families and bills to pay like everyone else so it is something that we would want to get put to bed but we can't do it.
"The club can't make any commitment to any players until they find out what league they are in next season which is fair enough.
"I think that is an even bigger incentive for everyone to ensure our safety in the Premiership and then we can get round the table and see if we are going to get a contract or not.
"You are always fighting for the next contract so hopefully we can ensure our Premiership status for next season.
"I would love to be here next year. I love the club and I have had a fantastic time here."
St Mirren goalkeeper Marian Kello is out of the game. The Buddies number one came off at the interval against St Johnstone with a groin injury and replacement Chris Dilo will take over in goal.
Saints manager Lennon has no other injury worries for the visit to the Highlands.