Ross County V Inverness CT at Victoria Park : Match Preview

03 April 2014 04:01
Ross County V Inverness CT - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

Defender Boyd by County form

Ross County defender Scott Boyd feels they are hitting form at the right time as they bid to make sure they are nowhere near the dreaded play-off position.

County play their fifth consecutive game against top-six opposition ahead of the Scottish Premiership split when they host Inverness on Friday night.

They have only lost once during that run so far, against Motherwell, and took points off Aberdeen and Celtic in the last two games after earlier winning at St Johnstone.

So Boyd is full of confidence ahead of the final Highland derby of the season.

"It has obviously been a tough run of games we have had and we have been fortunate to take points off two of the top teams in the division this season, so it gives us a lot of confidence going into these games," the centre-back said.

"We have managed to tighten up, not just as a defence but as a whole team, and we are looking a threat on the break as well, so it's looking good going into the last six games of the season."

County can move six points above second-bottom St Mirren, and equal with Hibernian, when they welcome their neighbours.

Such a cushion would be warmly welcomed at the Global Energy Stadium as County look to stay in the top flight for a third season.

Boyd helped them get there in 2011-12 and he knows any Championship opponent will be desperate to utilise the first chance of going up through the new play-off system.

"We know how tough it is to get out of that division and the teams will be up for it," the 27-year-old said.

"So it's something we want to avoid at all costs, being in that play-off position.

"We are all working so hard to make sure we're not in that position and if we get three points on Friday night it will pull us further away from where we don't want to be."

Marc Klok has returned to training following injury ahead of the game.

Stuart Kettlewell will have a scan on a hip/groin problem as he remains on the sidelines along with Darren Maatsen and goalkeeper Michael Fraser, who is back in light training following appendicitis.

Winger Melvin de Leeuw is available ahead of his upcoming one-match ban.

Meanwhile, Inverness manager John Hughes admits it has been difficult to impart his ideas on to his team since he took over.

But he is looking for a repeat of the most recent Highland derby after feeling everything came together during their 3-0 win over Ross County in February.

That win was one of five victories in 19 Scottish Premiership games that Caley Thistle have secured since Hughes took over in early December.

Hughes feels recent performances have deserved better, but is looking for a more "streetwise" approach ahead of the Friday night clash in Dingwall.

"It takes time," Hughes said. "We have come here in the winter months and it's very, very hard to put a coaching session on.

"Coaching and training sessions are two different things. With coaching you are educating them, you are taking it from the tactics board to the training pitch. You need the weather and conditions to do that.

"Training is when you go out in the winter and it's cold and you need to keep them moving - you can't stand about. So it has been very difficult to coach. And we have played 14 games in eight weeks so it has not been a lot of recovery time in between.

"We have had to do a lot from the tactics board and hopefully it works on the pitch. But it was evident against Ross County last time and hopefully it will be the case again, and it's a cracking Highland derby."

Hughes, whose side lost to a late counter-attack against Motherwell on Tuesday, felt a number of facets came together in that February derby win.

"Organisation, team shape, energy, belief, surface and the pass and move was spot on," he said.

"We countered them when we had to counter them, sat in when we had to sit in, but passed and moved the ball very well, resulting in picking up three points with probably one of the best performances of the season.

But he added: "Maybe it's just goals that did that. Would I be saying that if it finished 0-0?"

Defender Josh Meekings returns from suspension. Captain Richie Foran, who attended the midweek defeat by Motherwell on crutches as he battles a knee problem, will serve a one-match ban.

Aaron Doran could also miss out again with a hamstring injury.

Source: PA

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