Terry Butcher has admitted he expects a warm welcome when he returns to the Highlands as boss of Hibs for the first time.
The Easter Road outfit head to Dingwall on Saturday to face Ross County, as they begin their bid to reach the final of the Scottish Cup for a third season in succession.
While the Capital club have never beaten the Staggies, however, as manager of Inverness Caley, Butcher lost only once in six encounters with Derek Adams’ side last season, including a cup triumph in a replay following a thriller at Victoria Park, in which two of the six goals were scored in the last minute. However, despite Hibs’ poor record against County – two draws the best they have to show from six previous clashes – Butcher insisted he would be facing his once near-neighbours with confidence following his side’s performance as they battled to a goalless draw with St Mirren in his first game in charge.
The display, which he admitted had somewhat surprised him and his assistant Maurice Malpas, has, Butcher insisted, given him “real good hope” that Hibs can make the return journey down the A9 with their berth in the next round secured.
“Ross County away,” he said, “it’s one of my favourite grounds. I am well treated there – usually – but we will certainly go and enjoy it.”
Almost 1200 Hibs fans made the trip to Paisley and another large travelling support is expected to descend on Dingwall which, Butcher claimed, can only help his players negotiate what will be regarded as a tricky encounter.
The Hibs boss said: “The fans were absolutely brilliant on Saturday but we just couldn’t reward them with that goal, that winner.
“It was a gritty performance considering the boys had lost four on the spin, three in the league and one to Hearts.
“Confidence has been fragile but I thought their confidence grew the more the game went on and that gives us real hope and real desire to go up there and win.”
Meanwhile, it has been revealed Paul Heffernan’s torn thigh muscle isn’t as bad as first feared, but the striker will still be out of action for a month after he lasted just five minutes of the match against the Buddies.