JOHN HUGHES yesterday paid tribute to sacked Ross County counterpart Derek Adams for his "massive" contribution to Highland football.

The Caley Thistle manager, only recently tipped as the Premiership boss most likely to lose his job first, expressed sadness at the announcement by Caley's fierce rivals across the Kessock Bridge.

Hughes, who has recovered from sackings of his own at Hibernian and Hartlepool, said: "Being a fellow manager, it's a sad day. I always got on well with Derek and George.

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"His association with Ross County has been about seven years and he's played a massive part in getting them through the divisions.

"For any colleague to lose his job is a sad day. I've been there myself and it's not a pleasant experience. One thing I will say about Derek and George is when I was managing down in the north-east of England with Hartlepool, I would go and watch Middlesbrough and Sunderland's under-21s. Lo and behold, they were there taking games in. So it shows the commitment and work ethic they put into the job.

"In all sincerity, I hope it's not too long before they get back into the game. If I was giving them any tips, it does make you a better manager. It makes you stronger because it gives you a chance to sit back and analyse what you've done right and wrong."

Hughes, meanwhile, dismissed as "total speculation" reports of a twin Peterborough move for Inverness striker Billy McKay and defensive colleague Josh Meekings.

He said: "It's a good thing because the speculation tells us we must be doing something right and playing good football. You want that but if anybody is coming in for them, come in with finances that stand you a chance of getting them. With the wee bits of speculation and the figures I'm hearing, it doesn't match our value of these players."

Hughes has joked that he might have to get the chairman drunk to persuade him to loosen the purse strings at Inverness. But he added: "I just want to bring good players to the club but I've never been a chequebook manager. I'm a coach."