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Caley Jags boss counting on home advantage in cup replay

Caley Thistle manager John Hughes
Caley Thistle manager John Hughes

Caley Thistle manager John Hughes believes his side will be in a stronger position for next week’s WIlliam Hill Scottish Cup replay against Hibernian.

Andrea Mbuyi-Mutombo’s late equaliser prevented the holders being knocked out of the competition, with the Congolese international’s strike cancelling out James Keatings’ opener for Hibs.

A semi-final against Dundee United is the reward for whoever progresses from the replay a week tomorrow at Caledonian Stadium.

Hibs will have top scorer Jason Cummings as well as defender Paul Hanlon and midfielder Marvin Bartley back for the replay after all three missed Sunday’s 1-1 draw through suspension.

However, Hughes believes his side will also be strengthened with defender Josh Meekings and midfielder James Vincent both closing in on a return from injury.

The Caley Thistle manager said: “We had one or two players close to being fit, so I am just hoping when they replay comes around we will have more numbers to pick from.

“I know Hibs will have one or two back but whoever we are playing against we have to get on the ball and express ourselves.

“The replay will be determined by who wants it more on the day and who is better organised.

“We wanted better link-up play in the attacking areas but, in terms of character and spirit, I couldn’t have asked for more from my players.

“We didn’t want to get into a fight, we wanted to play football. But you have to earn the right to compete. When we got the equaliser I felt there was only going to be one winner.

“I was pleased for the supporters who made the journey to Edinburgh as we are still in the competition. But we have it all to do as Hibs are a really good team.”

Caley Thistle’s goal hero Mbuyi-Mutombo almost missed the match because of injury but Hughes was pleased his gamble to play paid off.

He added: “He was touch and go whether he was going to be on the bench as he has had a slight calf problem. That’s fate, it worked out.

“From the start I was asking him to analyse the game because there were areas where we felt he could be effective.

“I’m delighted for him and also Lewis Horner, who came on and did well. He has been playing well but, because of the formation we played, he found himself sitting on the bench. He came on and proved to us he can hold his own in the team.”

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