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Kilmarnock v Inverness CT: Chance for visitors to swap dismay in cup for success in another

The cup is still half full for Inverness Caledonian Thistle, even if it spilled a little last weekend.

Ross Draper has been frustrated by his side's form. Picture: SNS
Ross Draper has been frustrated by his side's form. Picture: SNS

The Highland side lost a Scottish Communities League Cup semi-final with Hearts on penalties a week ago and have spent the past few days trying their best to douse the pain. It has left them especially eager to wade into the William Hill Scottish Cup this afternoon, then.

They face Kilmarnock in the fifth round – a side situated some eight points behind them in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League table. An auspicious start to the season has afforded Inverness a level of confidence ahead of the tie, but they have retained a sense of humility, too. Inverness deserve to feel proud over what they have already achieved – reaching a cup semi-final is no mean feat – yet they still have vulnerabilities which have been exposed in recent weeks.

That defeat to Hearts was followed on Wednesday by a rare league defeat at the hands of St Mirren so progressing to the fifth round of the Scottish Cup would address any concerns over their form. The trip to Rugby Park also offers a test of character and one which Ross Draper is keen to score highly in.

"In the changing room at Easter Road [after the defeat by Hearts], the manager said something that really stuck with me," said the Inverness midfielder. "He said that sometimes you have to endure the tough times to appreciate the good times when they come. The fact that we have only lost four games all season shows how well we have performed.

"When bad times come, it is all about how you react. We lost again at St Mirren and it is important we bounce back to winning ways.

"The players are frustrated but we don't become a bad team overnight. There is a confidence that we can get back on track. We want to go as far as we can in every competition and that means the league and the Scottish Cup for us now. What happened in the League Cup is gone, if not forgotten."

Inverness have bolstered their squad during the transfer window by bringing youngster Jordan Gibbs on loan from Queens Park Rangers and Leeds United's Charlie Taylor has also joined on a similar deal. Perhaps the greatest boost to the squad, though, came from the news that their side would not be saying goodbye to their most prominent performers; neither Billy McKay nor Andrew Shinnie being coaxed away from the club. "I never enjoy the transfer window so it is good to be done with it," said Terry Butcher, the Inverness manager.

There was a more convincing sense of satisfaction coming from within the Kilmarnock squad yesterday, with Rory McKenzie having been named in the Scotland under-21 squad that will travel to Greece next week. However, the striker turned out to be the last to know at his club after the Scottish Football Association broke the news on Twitter.

"I'm not on Twitter so all the boys knew before me," said McKenzie. "I'd just come in from training and the boys told me. I'm about the only one who isn't on Twitter. I can't be bothered with it, I'm on Facebook but Twitter? It's too much for me.

"It was a bit of a surprise I've been playing the last couple of weeks, so it's very pleasing."

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