Caley Thistle manager John Hughes insists his squad can cope without the services of two key players for tomorrow’s Scottish Cup tie at St Mirren.
Leading scorer Marley Watkins and midfielder Greg Tansey are both missing, having been sent off in the 5-0 defeat by Dundee United in last season’s competition.
However, Hughes has Ross Draper back after the player served a suspension in last weekend’s 3-1 win against Motherwell and the Caley Jags manager insists the impact his substitutes have made in their time on the field gives him confidence they can slot in when required.
Hughes said: “We need to shake it up a little bit but that’s where someone else gets a chance. I’m sitting here and really hoping they grab it and give me a real headache for next week.
“Aaron Doran was first sub on last week and I felt he really made an impact, bringing a higher energy to the game. His link-up play was excellent and he was down the line crossing it, taking players on.
“No matter who it is, whether it’s Carl Tremarco coming in and Graeme Shinnie moving to midfield or Nick Ross or Ross Draper coming back in, I expect these boys to do the business.
“You cannot be a shrinking violet when you’re playing in the Scottish Cup.
“I’m not talking about getting stuck in, I’m talking about being brave on the football and making it do the work. That’s why they’re good footballers. I’m looking forward to it.”
Hughes feels consistency of selection has made the job of picking the team easier but he also sympathises with the players who have found starting opportunities limited.
Hughes added: “Nine times out of 10, the team has picked itself and most coaches and managers throughout Scotland will say that certainly helps.
“Nine times out of 10, the shape has been the same. That has meant the guys on the bench have had to be very patient.
“There have been one or two tweaks and changes here or there. But we’ve been very lucky with injury, apart from Richie Foran.
“It was the substitutes coming off the bench who put us on the front foot against Motherwell and took us up a gear.
“We changed the shape and took the game to Motherwell – and went on to win. That just underlines the role of the substitute and all credit to them.”