LEE McCULLOCH will open discussions with the Kilmarnock board this week on the prospect of becoming manager on a permanent basis and if the players had their way they would urge the directors to make him an offer he cannot refuse.

McCulloch has been consistently non-comital about whether he wants the position or not, but having ensured a 25th consecutive season in the top flight for Kilmarnock by accumulating 16 points from his 12 games in charge he has surely validated his credentials.

However, there is more to it than that because McCulloch will want to know the conditions he will be asked to work under and this aspect will be the key to successful negotiations.

The former Rangers captain would undoubtedly be the unanimous choice of the dressing room, according to full-back Luke Hendrie who is due to return to Burnley this summer after a loan spell.

Hendrie said: “He has a great appetite for the job and he will be a success at it in the future. It is not my decision but I can only talk from the experience that I have had with him.

“His man-management is great. As everyone knows we are a young squad. If you look around we’ve got some good senior pros, but day to day he is good at talking to people.

“He’s also got that winner’s instinct after a great career, and it rubs off on us. We’ve looked a lot more solid since he has taken charge, and I would say his mentality is relentless. It rubs off on everyone.

“He gets players to express themselves and it is ridiculous how young our squad is. I am only 22 and I am classed as one of the older ones.

“Obviously, he is fresh from playing, he’s got fresh ideas, and he knows how the modern player works.

“But we’ve got some really talented players here and, like I said, some of the senior boys really pull us along here and really help us.”

It was Killie’s young attackers – Jordan Jones, Adam Frizzell and Greg Kiltie – who were the outstanding performers in a victory that looks like condemning Caley Thistle to the Championship.

Sean Longstaff, also excellent, gave them the lead with a 17th minute strike following Ryan Esson’s blunder. Then Jones raced from halfway to score a wonderful solo goal 12 minutes into the second half.

Alex Fisher tried to inspire a fightback with a good strike after being set up by Iain Vigurs 19 minutes from time but it was in vain and the irony is that Inverness are now relying on their Highland rivals Ross County for a stay of execution.

If Hamilton win in Dingwall tomorrow night seven years of first tier football will end but Vigurs, who spent four good years with County, hopes his old club will do Caley Thistle a major favour.

Even then, Inverness would still need to beat Dundee on Wednesday to keep things alive for the final day of the season.

He said: "We need two favours from Ross County and Dundee in the last two games, and we obviously need to do our own business. Getting two wins is all we can do but it's out of our hands.

"I might actually go along to the County-Hamilton game. I stay in Dingwall so I might go and watch it. I know Midge Gardyne well so I will ask for him a couple of tickets.

"My wife is from Dingwall and I live two minutes from the stadium.

"I am treated really well when I go back to Ross County. Everyone is really good with me.

"I am looking for County to do us a favour and I would rather be there watching it rather than listening to the radio or watching updates on TV.

"Ross County are safe and you don't know how they'll be in the game. They could down tools, but I'll be telling Midge to go all out.

"I've never really been in the situation before and it's difficult, because you can't influence anything.”

Although there is rivalry between the Inverness and Dingwall sides, Vigurs insists that most Staggies supporters want them to stay up not least for the perpetuation of the Highland derby – known locally as El Kessocko.

The 29-year-old midfielder admits that it would be the worst moment of his career if relegation materialises but accepts Caley Thistle have not been good enough.

He said: "Whenever I speak to County fans, they all want us to stay up. If we went down, it would take a lot away from football up there.

"Everyone would miss the derby. They definitely want us to stay up. It's different type of rivalry. It's not a bitter feud. It's a good rivalry and a great game to have in the Premiership calendar.

"The Highland derby would be a real loss to Scottish football.

"If we go down, it will be the lowest point of my career. I went down with the club in 2009 but it was different then as I was young and didn’t play that often.

“Throughout the season, we've had good performances here and there, but it's just not been good enough.

"When you think back to winning the Scottish Cup in 2015 and finishing third...we know how much of a difference it is from then.”