Ross County manager John Hughes says the Staggies must quickly refocus on their task of securing Premiership survival following their Scottish cup loss to rivals Caley Thistle.
The Staggies were defeated 3-1 by Inverness in Friday’s Highland derby encounter at Victoria Park, despite taking the lead through Billy Mckay.
County will turn their attention to their battle for Premiership survival, with Hughes’ men 10th but only two points above bottom side Hamilton Accies, and a point ahead of Kilmarnock, with five games remaining.
Next up for County is a crunch match against Killie at Rugby Park next Saturday, and Hughes says the character of his squad must come to the fore in the relegation battle.
Hughes said: “We need to now lick our wounds, have a right good get together ahead of five cup finals, and make sure we are at it.
“I still think we’ve got enough in that dressing room to make sure we stay in the Premiership.
“It’s not going to be easy – I have said since I came in it’s going to go right to the wire.
“We have to be more resolute and more demanding of each other than we were, especially in the second half.
“It’s not so much a soft side, if you’ve got a job to do for the team you have to do it. You can’t let your team-mates down. It’s their job.
“There is no point going in and saying “you, you and you.” We are in a team, we win together.
“I saw John Stones getting slaughtered for a mistake for England the other night – what about the strikers that put it past the post or over the bar from two yards?
“We are all in it together – it’s a team game.
“I still think we’ve got enough character in that dressing room to go and get the results we need to stay in the league.
“It’s going to be difficult, but we need to stick together. We need to show character, and use the disappointment from this as fuel for next week.”
Hughes fell to a derby defeat against a Caley Jags side he led to victory in the competition in 2015.
The Staggies felt Neil McCann’s men were the deserving winners in Dingwall, and he added: “I have to give all the credit to Inverness. In the second half they were the better team.
“I think they were hanging on when they got that second goal, they had plenty to hang on to but we were huffing and puffing, and we never had the quality to break it down.
“We tried to stretch it with the wingers, but it just never worked for them.
“I just wish Inverness all the best, with their second half performance they deserved it. We wish them all the best.”