Ross County midfielder Jackson Irvine reckons finishing fourth in the Premiership and winning a cup would make Jim McIntyre manager of the season.
The Staggies’ hopes of catching third-placed Hearts are all but gone, with the Jambos’ 3-0 win in Dingwall last Wednesday moving them 11 points clear with two games in hand.
With 12 games remaining County face fierce competition to hold on to fourth place, with Dundee moving level on points and goal difference with Friday’s 2-0 win against St Johnstone, and only behind the Highlanders having scored a goal fewer.
Manager McIntyre led County to the final of the League Cup with a 3-1 win against holders Celtic at Hampden Park in January, setting up a final against Hibernian next month.
Victory in the final and finishing fourth would be a standout achievement according to Irvine, and the 22-year-old said: “It’s not just top six, we want to finish in the top four. That’s where we want to be.
“We feel we’ve underachieved in the last few months considering the performances we’ve put in and the injuries we’ve had, such as losing Liam Boyce and Craig Curran up front.
“We want fourth. That’s our aim. If we had got a positive result against Hearts last week then we would only have been five points behind them.
“Unfortunately that game didn’t go our way but our target is to finish fourth and to win a trophy.
“The manager would be a shout for manager of the year if we could pull that off.
“We’ve got a quarter-final in the Scottish Cup as well which is also important to us. We’re delighted. Towards the end of last year we went on an amazing run of wins and people started to take us a bit more seriously. Throughout this season we’ve gained more and more respect. Celtic put out what was just about their strongest team against us and I’m sure they also wanted a bit of revenge after the League Cup semi-final.”
County will try to secure their first major silverware next month when they take on Championship side Hibs, but Australia international Irvine says all thoughts about that game are on hold.
He added: “We’ve barely thought about it, it’s something to look forward to but it’s a one-off game.
“The league is throughout a full season and so we have to stay as focused as we can. I don’t think we’ve dropped below any lower than fifth or sixth in the table all season and that’s where we want to stay. It will be difficult as there are a lot of tough games coming up. We’re excited for the cup final but it’s full focus on the league for now.”