Jim McIntyre is convinced Kilmarnock will be none the weaker for losing Souleymane Coulibaly to Egyptian club Al Ahly for £800,000.
The Ross County manager is an admirer of Lee Clark’s rebuilding work and braced for a tough examination at a ground that has proven a happy-hunting ground in recent years.
County have won their last seven games, home and away, against Killie as well as recording four consecutive wins at Rugby Park.
With new signings Jim O’Brien, Jason Naismith, Milan Lalkovic and Oscar Gobern now competing for places, McIntyre has described the squad as the strongest of his time at Dingwall.
Approaching the tie with a mix of caution and confidence, the County manager was certainly not reading too much into Coulibaly’s departure.
He said: “Kilmarnock have some good players who can hurt you. Souleymane Coulibaly spent some time on the bench recently, so that shows they have good options in the team.
“They have had some good results in the first half of the season and some where you thought they would win, but they didn’t.
“That’s been the same with every club from sixth down – the inconsistency is there.
“They’ve pulled in a bit of money this week and fair play to Lee Clark for that. To bring in a player for free and then get £800,000 for him, he’s done well there.
“They’ve made another six signings, so there’s going to be new blood there and freshness to their squad. We’ve got a good record at Rugby Park and we want to go down there and keep that going.”
County have performed well in the past on Killie’s sometimes controversial synthetic surface but McIntyre has prepared his players for a variation on what they are used to.
He said: “The pitch is different from what it was last year. There’s more rubber on it and it’s not as wide as it was.
“We’re going to be playing on a different size pitch and I don’t expect the ball to be whizzing about as much. But our plan will still be as normal.
“The boys have trained well this week and we are lucky we have the artificial pitch facility here to prepare for the game ahead.”
Chris Burke remains out with a viral illness but fellow midfielder Michael Gardyne is right back in contention for a start after his hamstring problem.