Ross County midfielder Ross Draper says points rather than bragging rights provide the main motivation in tonight’s Highland derby against Caley Thistle.
The Staggies are looking to extend their lead at the top of the table to five points over Dundee United, who the Dingwall men host on Friday.
In a potentially title-defining week, Draper knows more than usual is on the line against their rivals at Caledonian Stadium.
Englishman Draper said: “At the start of the season it’s kind of about bragging rights. If you get beaten, you drop points but the gap isn’t big.
“To get beaten would be bad for both clubs, in terms of what they are trying to plan to do and where they want to be at the end of the season.
“It makes it a bigger game, but Inverness, Dundee United, then Dunfermline and Partick next week are all big games.
“It does come down to points at the end of the day. It does have that spice with it being the derby, but we know it’s our game in hand and other teams won’t be playing.
“We need to take full advantage and try and win the game.”
Tonight will be the sixth meeting between the clubs this season, with County’s only defeat coming by virtue of spot-kicks in their penalty shoot-out loss in the Scottish Cup in February, with Caley Jags having gone on to reach the semi finals where they will face Hearts later this month.
Draper, who left Inverness to join the Staggies in 2017, insists the loss has allowed his side to focus on the main prize of league success, with the 30-year-old adding: “Our defeat against them was the toss of a coin. They have gone on to do well in the cup, and credit to them. I wish them well in the semi final.
“It was maybe a blessing in disguise we didn’t have that distraction, because we had the IRN-BRU Cup as well.
“It would have been more games, and with the injuries we have had as well, maybe it was a blessing in disguise we were able to take more games out of the equation to concentrate on the league.
“The boys did well to finish off the job in the IRN-BRU Cup to win a bit of silverware.
“It’s back to the league now – it’s the only one we are left in.
“To finish the season with the double would be an incredible achievement – and that’s the plan.”
Draper was back among the substitutes for Saturday’s 1-0 defeat against Alloa Athletic having suffered a torn ligament in his foot in the cup replay loss to Inverness in February, with an unsuccessful attempt at a return thwarted in a league defeat to Dundee United a fortnight ago.
Draper is ready for action for the derby, and he added: “The derby was the last game I was properly involved in.
“I came back too soon in the Dundee United game – I shouldn’t have pushed the managers to play me.
“I should have taken time to get going because I hadn’t really trained before that game.
“Now I’ve got this out of the way, I’m OK and raring to go again.”