Darren Dods believes Caley Thistle must remember a return to Hampden will be in touching distance if they win their Scottish Cup fifth round tie against Hibs on Saturday.
The former defender, who played for both clubs, will have an eye on the outcome of the last-16 clash at the Caledonian Stadium this weekend.
Hibs, who host Celtic on Wednesday, slipped out of the top half of the Premiership on Saturday when they lost 3-0 at home to St Mirren.
ICT and Hibs are on similar league runs at the moment, with Duncan Ferguson’s Highlanders only winning three of their last 10 games all-in, while Hibs’ sore loss to the Buddies made it just two victories in their last nine fixtures – one of which was a 1-0 Scottish Cup win at League Two opponents Forfar Athletic.
Draw might open up for ICT or Hibs
The Caley Jags got past Lowland League visitors Cowdenbeath and Broomhill to reach the fifth round.
And Dods believes the opportunity is there for last year’s cup runners-up to Celtic to think big if they beat Nick Montgomery’s Hibs and get a bit of luck by avoiding the top-flight’s big-hitters in the quarter-final draw.
He said: “Inverness had a brilliant run to the final by beating Livingston and Kilmarnock to reach the semi-final, where they then beat Falkirk.
“Apart from playing Celtic, Rangers and maybe Hearts right now, these teams will think there is a real opportunity in the quarter-finals.
“If you can meet a Championship team or a team outside the top three in the Premiership, there is a chance.
“Last season, Inverness got Falkirk in the semi-final, so it can really open up for you.
“I know Hibs have had a wee dip and their fans are getting a bit frustrated, but they also have the incentive of a quarter-final if they win at the weekend.
“If they can get a home draw and avoid the Old Firm, they can be one win away from being at Hampden then one more result away from the final.
“This is Hibs’ last chance to do anything this season, so there is a wee bit added pressure on them.”
Hibs struggled on trips to Inverness
Dods is assistant to former ICT defender/midfielder David Proctor at Cumbernauld Colts, who are in second place in the Lowland League this term.
And he recalls the Caledonian Stadium being a tricky venue for Hibs when he faced them in the top-flight during his time at ICT between 2004 and 2007.
He said: “I have only seen Inverness once recently and that was on TV when they were unlucky not to win against Dundee United (in a 1-0 defeat).
“I know Inverness are not quite getting results at home (with two wins from 11 games), but we tended actually to have a strong record there against Hibs back when Charlie Christie and Craig Brewster were in charge.
“In fact, under Terry Butcher and John Hughes, they also fared well against Hibs.
“It was always a tricky venue for Hibs. I would think they will come up on Friday.”
New ICT players ‘will find their feet’
Ferguson shook up his squad during the transfer window, with six players being replaced by seven in permanent moves.
Dods is confident they can have a real go at making up the eight-point gap between their current position and the play-off promotion spots.
He added: “I know Inverness lost at the weekend, but I still think there are enough games left for them to try and catch Morton, who are up in fourth place.
“Duncan Ferguson has brought quite a few players in during the transfer window, so they will soon find their feet.”