Caley Thistle manager John Hughes insists nothing that happens in today’s Scottish Premiership encounter with Celtic will affect his preparation for next weekend’s Scottish Cup semi-final against the Hoops.
Inverness face a crucial double-header against Ronny Deila’s side in the next seven days and can take a big step towards their first major silverware with a victory at Hampden Park next week.
Today’s league match is the primary focus for Hughes, however, as third-placed Caley Jags are tasked with the tricky prospect of ending a run of six league matches without a win when the champions visit Caledonian Stadium.
Hughes is treating the two forthcoming games as separate affairs and said: “I don’t think today will have any bearing on next week’s match. That will take care of itself on its own merit.
“There will be no Gary Mackay-Steven or Stuart Armstrong next week, so, hopefully, we’ll know a bit more about what the Celtic team will be.
“It doesn’t matter, though, because Celtic don’t change for anyone. They put up their best players, who win them the football match.
“Usually, anyone who plays for Celtic is a strong character. Nothing fazes them.
“When we play against Celtic, we can’t have any shrinking violets. We need to have that air of confidence. There’s no reason why we’re not as fit and strong as them.
“I’m hoping we’ve got one or two things up our sleeve that Celtic need to be careful about. If they don’t, there’s a chance we might get in and hurt them.”
Despite Caley Thistle commanding an eight-point lead over fourth-placed Dundee United, Hughes says the job of qualifying for Europe is far from done.
Hughes added: “I think that’s going to go right down to the wire, looking at the run in.
“A game against Celtic is a freebie. We’ve got nothing to lose, as they’ll be favourites. Dundee United will be favourites against Hamilton. If they win that, we’ve still got them to play. So, it’s still all to play for.
“What these boys have done has been outstanding. I don’t want them to get caught up in the pressure of trying to succeed. They just need to play their football.”