Cove Rangers boss Paul Hartley has tipped tonight’s Betfred Cup opponents Caley Thistle to be serious Championship contenders.
Hartley worked with current Caley Jags boss John Robertson at Hearts and has been impressed with the side he has assembled at the Caledonian Stadium.
The SPFL’s newest side face their second full-time team in a week, having drawn creditably with Dundee last Wednesday, and face another in Raith Rovers at the weekend.
Inverness beat Raith impressively on Saturday, coming out on top 4-1, and Hartley believes they should be among the title favourites in the Championship.
He said: “I think they’ll be among the sides contending at the top end of the table, having worked under the manager before.
“They’re a team with strong individuals and are strong at home. For us it’s another game that will require a lot of hard work and will build minutes for the players. We’ve shown (against Peterhead and Dundee) we can have a really good shape against good opposition.
“Peterhead was good and Dundee was excellent. We’ve shown we can match anyone – we just have to keep it going. We know we’re massive underdogs in every game.”
Hartley’s selection headache has got worse, with only Daniel Higgins, Harry and Cammy Milne as his available defenders.
Ryan Strachan is still nursing an ankle problem, while Scott Ross is suspended and Darryn Kelly is on holiday. He is also without midfielder Jamie Redman, who has missed both games against Peterhead and Dundee.
Captain Mitch Megginson, who went off with a thigh problem 17 minutes into the game against Peterhead, did some light physio work at the weekend but is unlikely to be risked in Inverness.
Hartley added: “He didn’t do a lot of work with us – he was mainly with the physio. He’s had another couple of days to recover but we won’t be stupid with him.
“Darryn being on holiday is not ideal but it’s something we knew about. It’s up to someone else to go take that opportunity.”