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Ready for another round after drinking in semi-final win

John Hughes has outlined a sober ambition for his Inverness Caledonian Thistle players.

He would do so when a few of them were still feeling the effects of a heavy night of revelry to celebrate reaching the final of the Scottish League Cup.

The Highland side would emerge bleary eyed and bushy haired from the party which followed that penalty shoot-out victory over Hearts last Sunday but have since resolved to go in pursuit of another cup final this season. It is a challenge which will be launched from Stranraer today when they meet in the fifth round of the William Hill Scottish Cup.

Hughes is certain that his players have it in them to reach the final of the competition add to their showpiece fixture against Aberdeen next month. That resolve will be tested by a Stranraer side which has already proven to be impertinent in the cups this season and the Inverness manager has instructed his players not to take their part-time opponents lightly this afternoon.

"Since the semi-final, I've not given them a day off," said Hughes, who will have captain Richie Foran back in the squad today for the first time since the forward sustained a shoulder injury last month. "That was for one reason and one reason alone: we want to get through to the final of the Scottish Cup. Getting to the final of one cup gives us the confidence and momentum to go and do that.

"With a little bit of luck in the draw - if we can get through against Stranraer - hopefully that can be the case. But the players have been well-warned that football has a funny habit of bringing you crashing back to earth when you are up there on cloud nine.

"We have highlighted that Stranraer beat Ross County earlier this season and we have spoken to the players about just what they will encounter down there. We have to take care of business [today], simple as that."

Having enjoyed the adulation of supporters for the past week, Hughes is determined not to fall from favour when he sends his side out at Stair Park. "We would be going from hero to zero if we faltered," he added. "I know the characters we have in the dressing room. I asked my assistant, Russell Latapy, what his mind set would be if he was a player and had a cup final coming up in a month's time.

"He said he would want to be man-of-the-match in the next four games, knowing he had to be sure of getting into that starting XI for the cup final. We have painted the picture for the players to give me 11 man of the match performances and stay in the team."

The Inverness manager also drew up a few of the potential difficulties that his side could face in Stranraer, although Marc Corcoran and Chris Aitken are both out for the home side.

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