SPL: Terry Butcher praised Inverness despite missing out on Europa League

Terry Butcher: Delighted with his side's season despite Europa League heartache

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Inverness manager Terry Butcher declared his season "the best ever" despite seeing his side miss out on a Europa League spot with a 1-0 defeat at Ross County in Sunday's Highland derby.

Caley Thistle required just one victory from their final two matches of the SPL season to secure third place in the table, a position they had occupied since November.

But after losing 2-1 at home to Dundee United last weekend, Butcher's side struggled in the absence of three regular midfielders, as Andre Hainault volleyed the only goal of the game at the Global Energy Stadium two minutes before the interval.

Defeat, coupled with St Johnstone's 2-0 victory over Motherwell, saw Inverness slip to fourth but Butcher was keen to accentuate the positives of a season that saw them achieve their highest league finish.

"Fair play to Ross County, they scrapped and certainly worked hard for the result," he said.

"But it wasn't about today. We have had a brilliant season. I don't think our club could possibly cope with Europe to be honest.

"When you lose four players, you need your big men and we didn't have that opportunity today.

"But take nothing away from Ross County, they have been brilliant as well. A point separates the two teams. We wanted to finish above them, which we have done.

"Overall I said to the players, you have been absolutely brilliant."