After the Lord Mayor's show...............
................. Comes the dust cart. The games are coming thick and fast for us this last few weeks and it has taken it's toll on the players legs, some looking rather weary at the end of a gruelling two hours of football on Sunday and an emotionally draining penalty shoot-out.
Yes, it's off to Motherwell on Wednesday night for the bread and butter league games, but this one could define whether we will be able to sustain our challenge for greater things.
We had a long day out in Glasgow on Sunday and although we gave it our all, we came home empty handed and it will take a bit of time to get that one out of our systems.
One piece of good news today was Ross Draper adding another two years to his contract at Inverness and that means that most of the main characters are signed up beyond this summer. Good work by the board on that.
Motherwell sit six points above Inverness although the Highlanders have a game in hand, which means a win at Fir Park would put us within three points of Well in the race for European football. Without the distraction of cup football to contend with, we can now concentrate on climbing higher in the league in the knowledge that top-six is already achieved. The Steelmen have conceded their fair share of goals though, but on the other hand they have scored plenty as well, which makes our job more difficult, but we are four goals to the good on goal difference.
The first game between the sides saw Inverness run out comfortable 2-0 winners with goals from Richie Foran and Billy McKay up in Inverness. That was during our promising start to the season when goals and wins were commonplace, but much water has gone under the bridge since then. The goals have dried up. The form of both sides now is similar and somewhat erratic. Over the last five SPFL games Inverness have earned eight points out of a possible fifteen, that's one more than Motherwell. They do have the upper hand in the scoring though, with twelve goals against our four, but our defence is certainly much tougher to get past, conceding five in one game (Celtic), against the thirteen Motherwell have let in.
It's four games without scoring now for Billy McKay and Inverness and that's a tad worrying, but good to see the defence has restored a bit of pride with a couple of clean sheets. Danny Devine slotted in very neatly against Aberdeen and deserves to keep his place in the team, but it will be a brave man that tells Gary Warren he will not start, so I expect him to return to the XI that takes to the field at Fir Park. John Hughes has no other concerns ahead of this top-six fixture.
Keeper Lee Hollis has a broken finger and misses out. Gunnar Nielsen will replace him between the sticks. Also out are Lee Erwin, Simon Ramsden, Fraser Kerr, and former County midfielder Paul Lawson, with Henri Anier rated as doubtful. Steven Hammell, Zaine Francis-Angol and Stuart Carswell are all back after recovering from injuries to give McCall a selection headache before this game.
tm4tj Prediction:- I'll give it a miss for this game as the boys deserve a break. It's been a hectic few weeks now culminating in that emotional roller coaster at the weekend that was physically demanding and emotionally draining. The players have to pick themselves up and battle on regardless, but with such a thin squad it does take it's toll. As I said, I won't make a prediction, but I'll make a guesstimate that a draw won't be a disaster and a goal scored would be a bonus.