Published: 01/12/2011 02:00 - Updated: 01/12/2011 07:02

ICT players fight to avoid axe

CALEY Thistle's underfire players have five games this month to convince Terry Butcher they have a future at the club.

The Inverness CT manager has lost patience with his team after they switched off at two key moments at Hearts on Saturday and paid the price with a 2-1 Clydesdale Bank SPL defeat.

The performance, which was encouraging in parts, left the former England central defender reeling because, yet again, the players showed the good and bad aspects of their game.

So, ahead of Satuurday's trip to sixth-placed St Mirren, just one point separates Butcher's troops at the foot of the table and Aberdeen, with Dunfermline and Hibs two points ahead of them.

With the transfer window opening on January 1, Butcher insists no-one is safe from the axe unless they prove they can handle the pressure and perform.

He explained: "Everyone has to raise their game - it's as simple as that. There are five games in a busy month and hopefully we'll see an improvement from Saturday.

"The frustrating thing is that we are so tantalisingly close to getting the results we need, but we're falling short. The players have to show me before the window opens a level of consistency. There's a fair amount of football to be played in December."

ICT won a closed door bounce game against Ross County 3-0 on Tuesday and Butcher was encouraged by what he saw as Billy McKay bagged a double and youngster Ryan Watson also netted.

The boss said: "We put out a strong side and Ross County had a few younger lads in their team, but in was a good work-out for us."

Striker Gregory Tade this week insisted Caley Thistle won't take the dreaded plunge out of the top-flight, saying the they are a better side that struggling Aberdeen, Dunfermline Athletic and Hibernian.

Butcher, however, said: "It's alright talking about what we're going to do. What matters is regularly getting points on the board."

St Mirren will be looking to bounce back from their 5-0 trouncing at Celtic Park last weekend.

Buddies boss Danny Lennon has just signed a new two-year contract and, while Butcher rates his opposite number, he's backing his team to stand up to the challenge and net the win.

He explained: "I know Danny pretty well and he has acquired a number of good players this season. We've done well down there in the past, in their new stadium, so we're looking forward to it.

"The most important thing for us is the result and even if it's scrappy, I'll take that. A 1-0 win would be a great result, that would give us our first clean sheet of the season, but this is a match we're looking to win to hopefully move off the bottom of the table."

As we went to press, Josh Meekings was aiming to recover from a calf knock for this weekend, while David Proctor has an ankle injury.

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