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Russell Latapy has acknowledged the significance of Inverness winning their first major trophy in Saturday's William Hill Scottish Cup final against Falkirk at Hampden.

The Highland club's assistant was a surprise representative of Inverness at the obligatory pre-cup final media conference at the national stadium.

Manager John Hughes and skipper Graeme Shinnie were meant to attend but their places were taken by Latapy and club captain Richie Foran, who has been out for 14 months with a knee injury.

Foran apologised on behalf of Hughes and Shinnie, saying: "We have a strict routine we stick to. For the last couple of months we have been training later so the manager couldn't make it, he is training and Graeme is training."

The Scottish Football Association were not informed of the change and consequently released a statement which stated it and sponsors William Hill were "extremely disappointed," with the ruling body considering the no-show as "disrespectful" to the competition and its sponsors.

Focusing on Caley Thistle's first Scottish Cup final since their formation in 1994, former Falkirk player Latapy said: "It would be massive for any city but Inverness in particular is a fairly young club.

"There have been a lot of changes along the way and I suppose it is a great stepping stone moving forward.

"In Inverness before there were a lot of young kids who used to go about with the Rangers and Celtic strips on.

“Now we have seen a wee change there, that these kids are starting to go about with Inverness strips.

“That’s what it means for the city and we are delighted with it.

“It says that what is happening at the club is good, if you can breed a new generation of fans.

“We are going to continue to play the football we have been playing. What gets a new generation is not only the results but the type of football that you play and we are delighted with everything that is happening.

“Whatever final you get into there are only two teams so you definitely have a genuine chance to win it.

“We have had pretty hard fixtures getting to the final. We played three Premier League teams in Partick Thistle, St Mirren and Celtic along the way.

“So I supposed we are the favourites playing a team from the Championship but we will show them all the respect they deserve for getting into the final and will work as hard as we can to get the desired result.”

Latapy claims the positives taken from last season’s Scottish League Cup final defeat to Aberdeen – the Highlanders losing on penalties following a goalless draw – proved crucial in the semi-final against Celtic, where they emerged victorious with a 3-2 win after extra-time, and could make the difference against the Bairns.

“I suppose it gave the players a feel for finals and for big games,” he said.

“We played really well, it was a good final against Aberdeen.

“I thought we were a bit unlucky in that game but the players have learned from it and I thought that it showed in the semi-final against Celtic.

“We were able to stretch the game and make it really long and we kept the ball very well and so it showed that we learned from that final.”

Foran will watch from sidelines as he has been doing all season but vowed not to do a John Terry and celebrate with his Inverness team-mates should they triumph.

The Irishman said: “It’s not for me. I won’t be going near the Cup.

“I don’t feel I’ve done enough this season to go up and lift the Cup so I’ll leave that to a couple of other players who deserve it, in particular Graeme Shinnie who has been unbelievable.

“He’s improved so much this season, he’s been a great captain and a great leader while I’ve been off, and credit to him. He deserves to lift that cup but not me, not in my mind anyway.”