November 10, 2012
Butcher relishing greater expectation
Team Stat Comparison
|Inverness Caledonian Thistle||Heart of Midlothian|
|Goals for *||1.8||0.7|
|Goals against *||1.4||1.3|
|Last 5 home||L-W-D-W-D||L-W-W-W-L|
|Last 5 away||L-L-L-W-D||D-L-W-L-D|
|* Goals per match - home matches for home club and away matches for away club|
|Stats: Inverness Caledonian Thistle | Heart of Midlothian|
Terry Butcher is enjoying the "wonderful pressure'' of trying to extend Inverness' unbeaten run when they take on crisis club Hearts in their Clydesdale Bank Premier League clash on Saturday.
Caley have recovered fully from a ropey start to the season and are unbeaten in nine games, a run which has taken them into third place in the table and into the semi-finals of the Scottish Communities League Cup where, coincidentally, they were drawn against the Tynecastle side on Thursday.
The Gorgie club is fighting for its life after this week being issued with a winding up order by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs over a tax bill of almost £450,000.
Inverness boss Butcher admits to being concerned about "one of the great sides of Scottish football'' but is looking for his own team to stay on the upward curve.
"It is wonderful pressure," he told Press Association Sport. "It is so different. In the early part of the season we were equal bottom with Dundee, it was only goal difference that was keeping us off the bottom.
"Last year we were at the bottom for three months and that's not nice. It's not nice to look at the table, the papers, the websites and television and see your name at the bottom.
"Now it is the reverse. It is wonderful to see your name up there, we have been fifth, then fourth and now we are in the top three which is a fantastic achievement.
"It is all heady stuff but it is brilliant, we are enjoying being where we are and it keeps the players going.
"We went 21 matches unbeaten in our promotion season so it's not the best run we have been on at Inverness but probably is our best run in the SPL. We are just delighted and we want to keep it going.''
Butcher will be without midfielder Ross Draper, who twisted his ankle near the end of last week's 2-1 win at Kilmarnock.
The former Motherwell manager said: "Ross' studs caught in the turf and his ankle twisted.
"He hasn't missed a training session this season and it was strange to not see him there, but someone will come in and fill his shoes.''
Long-term absentees Simon King (ankle), Chris Hogg (knee) and Nick Ross (shoulder) are still out.
Hearts winger Andrew Driver believes the club will continue in some way, shape or form regardless of what happens over the coming days and weeks.
The Edinburgh outfit is battling for survival, with club bosses highlighting the severity of the situation by admitting next week's game against St Mirren could be their last unless fans help the club come up with the cash.
However, Driver refused to consider the prospect of Scottish football without Hearts and insists his side will be as professional as ever.
He said: "It's Heart of Midlothian - it's not going to go away. It's a nightmare of a situation the club is in and we've got to get out of this situation. It's a massive club, with masses of history.
"It's a shame it's in this situation and we've just got to get out of it.
"We are professionals. We've got to go into our game [at Inverness] this weekend and do as well as we can, as we have done over the last two years when we haven't been paid on time.
"We've kind of rallied together and got some pretty commendable results in those situations. It's just business as usual for us and hopefully we can get the siege mentality from this and go into the game and get a result.''
Hearts midfielder Ryan Stevenson will return after missing last weekend's defeat by Dundee with concussion.
Scotland Under-21 goalkeeper Mark Ridgers and right-back Jamie Hamill are still unavailable following knee injuries.
Dale Carrick remains on the sidelines following hernia surgery while Darren Barr's red card in the cup at Tannadice will not affect his SPL eligibility.