Ross County V Hibernian at Victoria Park : Match Preview
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Butcher looking for Ross boost
Hibernian manager Terry Butcher has urged his players to banish their relegation fears at the first attempt when they face Ross County on Tuesday night.
The troubled Leith men travel to Dingwall for their penultimate match of the campaign knowing a win will spare them a nerve-testing last-day decider at home to Kilmarnock as they bid to avoid the play-offs.
Butcher's side have not won since beating the Staggies at home in February but already have a pair of victories against Derek Adams' men in the Highlands.
The Hibs boss, whose side can move four points clear of County with victory, told Press Association Sport: "We all know what will happen if we win the game and that is a huge carrot for us to chase.
"We have won two games out of two up there this season but it would be nice to make it three out of three.
"Ross County are fighting for their lives too though and are better at home than away.
"I've used the cup final analogy to motivate the players before and it hasn't really worked. But we know the importance of the match and what we have to do."
Butcher's men finally ended a run of six straight Scottish Premiership defeats as they fought back from a goal and a man down to draw with Partick on Saturday.
Defender Sam Stanton scored Hibs' last-gasp equaliser to cancel out Kris Doolan's early opener after Michael Nelson was sent off having picked up two bookings.
The veteran English defender will now sit out the County clash but Butcher is at last happy with his side's look after they showed some fight in the derby defeat to Hearts the weekend previously.
He said: "I have finally got a team shape that I am happy with and the boys have responded on the pitch.
"We have produced some good football but if it wasn't for bad luck we would have no luck in front of goal.
"We can't buy an own goal, a ricochet or anything else that puts the ball in the back of the net.
"But I'm sure it will come because if we keep putting pressure on opponents like we have done in our last two games something is going to happen."
Jordon Forster has completed a one-match ban and is a like-for-like replacement for Nelson, but club captain James McPake could also cover as he nears a return from a long-standing back complaint. Kevin Thomson, however, is struggling for the match with a thigh strain.
Ross County manager Adams has urged his "match-winners" to go out and get the crucial goal against Hibernian that could guarantee their Scottish Premiership safety.
The winners of the Dingwall clash will ensure their top-flight survival but a draw would leave both in the frame for the play-off final ahead of the last weekend of the season.
Most games involving County have been narrow affairs in recent weeks and they fell to a 1-0 defeat at St Mirren Park on Saturday thanks to a stunning late strike from Gregg Wylde.
And Adams has called upon the likes of Melvin de Leeuw, Filip Kiss and Richard Brittain - who have all grabbed vital goals in recent weeks - to step up to the plate when Terry Butcher's men visit the Global Energy Stadium.
"We are looking for match-winners to get that goal that's going to be important for us," he said.
"We have got match-winners in the team, we have got players who can do something special and tomorrow night we are looking for them to do that.
"It's a cup final for our players. If we win we provide safety and another season in the Scottish Premiership.
"We have to run, we have to harry, we have to score goals, and we have to keep a clean sheet to do that.
"We know Hibs will come out and come at us but we'll have to do exactly the same. The players are under no illusions. They know what's at stake, they know what they have got to do and it's over to them, let's go and see what they can do."
Hibs ended a run of six consecutive defeats on Saturday when Stanton notched a late equaliser.
Three of Butcher's five wins as Hibs boss have come against County but Adams is confident his players have what it takes to deny his former Motherwell manager.
"They have picked up recently and got a good result on Saturday but at this stage in the season we have just got to take care of ourselves and look at what we have got to do, how we are going to perform and let other people worry about us," Adams said.
"They have made a few changes over a number of games so it will be quite hard to know how Hibs are going to play. But I have got a team I know are more than capable of winning the game."
Adams has several fitness issues to assess. Michael Tidser missed the defeat St Mirren after going off injured the week before while skipper Brittain went off in Paisley after suffering from an ongoing problem.
Adams revealed a few unnamed players picked up knocks on Saturday but he is hopeful everyone will recover in time for Tuesday night's game.
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