Ross County veteran Iain Vigurs doesn’t think the pressure is just on the Staggies in tonight’s Highland derby, saying “all 22 players will be dying to win”.
This evening, Premiership County and Championship County meet for the first time since 2019, when both sides were in the second tier.
They will be playing each other in Dingwall for a place in the Scottish Cup fourth round.
Vigurs, 32, is in his second spell with County, but has also had two periods with Inverness. He believes, while Covid means the fans will have to watch on TV, both sides will still be desperate for the bragging rights.
Asked whether the Staggies will feel more pressure as the top-flight outfit, he said: “I don’t see it like that, it’s just another derby that all 22 players will be dying to win.
“It would give the fans watching a massive lift if we won, but as an individual you have that pride you want to win every game, even more so against Inverness, so the boys are really fired up for it.
“It’s a good occasion, it’s on TV, Friday night under the lights and, if you don’t enjoy these occasions, you won’t enjoy it at all.”
County skipper Vigurs thinks he might miss being a pantomime villain – every derby has them after all – for Inverness fans in a “friendly derby” fixture he thinks is still highly anticipated by both sets of supporters and players.
He isn’t he only ex-Caley Jag in the Staggies squad, with the likes of Carl Tremarco, Billy Mckay and Coll Donaldson all having turned out for both teams.
Vigurs added: “Twice at both clubs – it’s the same, nothing changes. It doesn’t matter who you’re playing for, you want to win the game, but it’s heightened because it’s a derby.
“There are a few of us who’ve been at both clubs, it’s part and parcel of it with the supporters.
“You miss that little bit of being a pantomime villain with fans not being here.
“It’s been an odd season not having them at games, it’s like playing a bounce game every weekend, so the sooner we get them back in the better.”
While Vigurs says he’d “love” to go on a run in the national cup competition, having twice won both the second tier and Challenge Cup with the Staggies, as well as another Challenge Cup with Inverness, he insists County must focus on their post-split Premiership fixtures and staying up.
However, the midfielder, who was in the County side which lost the 2010 Scottish Cup final to Dundee United, thinks getting the formula right tonight in such a meaningful encounter could transfer over to the league.
The Staggies’ last game was a 1-0 loss to St Johnstone two weeks ago.
Vigues said: “I’d like the relegation fight to get going, so we can rectify all the wrongs of the season.
“Obviously it’s Scottish Cup weekend and that’s the most important for us.
“A good performance is needed after how we played against St Johnstone.
“We need to get back to playing football, because we were so far off the pace it was hard to watch and everyone would agree that it just wasn’t us.
“We need to get back to the fundamentals. We need a good performance going into the split.
“No-one’s ever questioned our workrate, but we need to do the basics – pass to a team-mate and trust in one another. We’ve lost that confidence and we need to get it back.”
Despite County having struggled to put wins together and Caley Thistle being on the up – a four-match winning streak helping reignite their promotion hopes – Vigurs doesn’t think form going into the cup clash will have too much of a bearing on the outcome.
He said: “It’s a one-off tie, anything can happen, especially in a derby where form goes out the window.
“It’ll boil down to who wants it more. A clean sheet is the key, you ask the gaffer right now and the one thing he’d want is a clean sheet.
“If you get that you don’t lose the game. That’s what the foundation is based on, so 0-0, winning on penalties, we’ll take that.”