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Hughes hopes that pride will come after a fall for Inverness

Two teams will line up inside the Tulloch Caledonian Stadium today facing in opposite directions.

On the one side will be a Dundee United team facing dead ahead to a William Hill Scottish Cup final appearance later this month, while Inverness Caledonian Thistle have been left looking back at a heavy defeat by Celtic. Six goals were conceded during the 90 minutes but they have been relived several times over since then.

It is a practice which the Highland side endured in the days following United's last visit to town - when they won 5-0 in the Scottish Cup - and has provoked a similar response from John Hughes. The Inverness manager has urged his players to learn from the mistakes made in a painful loss.

That has perhaps been made easier since a fixture with Celtic was not initially expected to impact on the side's ambitions this season. Inverness are still able to catch up to fourth-place United in the league table and Hughes is confident that his players can make up the distance.

"Celtic is not our fight. It's the rest of the teams that are our fight," he said. "Hopefully, we can restore a little bit of pride coming in to Saturday's match against a Dundee United team that are coming off a right good result against Motherwell.

"I am convinced that every one of United's starting line-up will be wanting to put in a man-of-the-match performance to make sure that Jackie [McNamara, the United manager] can't leave them out on cup final day. That's what we're up against."

Attention will be drawn to the Tannadice side as a consequence of their place in the final, as well as the continued prominence of their young players. That has meant that other nascent talents have progressed relatively unheralded this season, although Liam Polworth was not about to speak up in protest yesterday.

The midfielder is regarded highly in Inverness and is content simply to catch the eye of Hughes in the final matches of the season. "I don't think it bothers us younger lads if we are not in the spotlight like the younger players at Dundee United," he said.

"They can maybe feel a bit more pressure in the spotlight whereas, here, we are allowed to get on with it and do our own thing. The manager has shown a lot of faith in us and if we can save him going out and buy another player this summer it will give us more opportunities to play."

The subject of playing time is one which causes Brian Graham to shift uneasily, United's success this term having tinged with frustration for their striker. He has started only 10 matches this season but harbours a hope that he will be given enough of a chance to score in the cup final.

After all, Graham watched close friend John Baird do just that for Raith Rovers earlier in the campaign. "I was there that day when he scored the winner against Rangers in the Ramsden's Cup final," said Graham.

"You saw the joy on his face and his family's face. It was unbelievable. He's still buzzing. Now, hopefully, I can score a goal in the cup final this month like he did."

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