John Hughes eager for Europe with Inverness Caledonian Thistle

Inverness Caledonian Thistle manager John Hughes and his players
John Hughes is eager for his Inverness players to clinch third place in the Premiership

Inverness Caledonian Thistle boss John Hughes hopes his manager of the year prize is just the first of the club's triumphs this season.

Hughes, 50, whose side are third in the Premiership and have reached the Scottish Cup final, won his award at Sunday's PFA Scotland awards.

And he wants Caley to claim a European place through the league before they meet Falkirk in May's Cup final.

"I think we deserve it but nothing's ever given to you," he said.

"You have to go and earn it. We're going to have to win a few games to go and make sure that's the case.

"We've come this far so let's go and cement that place and that third spot and try and get the club into Europe for the first time in its history, that would be a remarkable achievement.

"It's in our own hands and I think we have to put the Scottish Cup on the back burner, that'll take care of itself. We need to concentrate on the league.

"The time of us flying under the radar's long gone. Now we're in the business end of the season. We've got four league games to go."

The former Falkirk and Hibernian manager insists his award is recognition of the Inverness players' efforts and the club in general.

Inverness Caledonian Thistle manager John Hughes
Hughes took home the manager of the year prize from Sunday's PFA Scotland awards

"It's not for me," he explained. "It's great to receive it but I think it's down to everyone at the club and the work, especially the players, they've been absolutely outstanding.

"That's recognition for their hard work and I'm hoping it reflects on our style of play, the way we play football because when we're at it, we're a good team.

"I'm really pleased for the club. Hopefully it's the first of one or two we can get along the way. We're still going for Europe through the league and we've got the Scottish Cup [final] to look forward to."

Inverness host Dundee United in a rearranged Premiership fixture on Tuesday evening and there are currently four points between the sides. There will be three rounds of fixtures after Tuesday's game.

"We really need to pick up the three points," said Hughes. "It would go a long way to trying to achieve that third spot."

And Hughes echoed United counterpart Jackie McNamara's view that the Premiership should be expanded beyond its current number of 12 clubs.

"I would go for a bigger league and summer football. We seem to be set in our ways and we seem to be gung ho and just sticking with what we've got," he added.

"Sometimes you need to evolve and you need to let it go and give up these traditions and you never know until you try it but let's go and give it a try and it might just work.

"I'd rather watch a game and coach when the sun's on my back and the games are better when the surfaces are fantastic.

"We have to encourage supporters coming through the gate and the best way to do it is when the sun's out."