AYR United boss Lee Bullen says the club's fixture-free weekend has come at a good time to "clear the head".

The Somerset Park boss says his players, and staff, need to get "mentally ready" for their Scottish Cup clash with Peterhead this Saturday.

The Honest Men will be looking to avoid an upset at Balmoor Stadium as they look to earn a place in the fourth round by defeating the League Two high-flyers.

The international break, coupled with Ayr's early exit from the Challenge Cup, meant Bullen's men had no game on Saturday - and the manager says the free week has given the club time to regroup following the disappointment of the 3-1 loss at Inverness on November 11. 

He told the Advertiser: “You come away from Inverness really hurt because of a 15-minute spell where, psychologically,two or three of your players go missing after we lose a goal.

“Instead of coming 1-0 down at half-time, you come in 3-0 down and the game's gone.

“It was good just to get that period of time without them having that pressure of having to go again and build up – it’s been good to clear the head a little bit for some players, and for the coaches as well.”

And Bullen also says the break has also provided a boost physically for players looking to return from a spell on the sidelines.

"Not having the game also gave us extra training time for [Aiden] McGeady, Ben Dempsey, Frankie Musonda, Charlie Albinson and people like that, to get them a little bit more up to speed," he continued.

“It’s in relation to the rest of the season, not just the cup game but going forward and strengthening the squad.

“They’re all back in contention now for being involved in the squad.”

Ayr will go into this weekend's match as heavy favourites against the Blue Toon - but Bullen says his players will not be taking the fixture lightly, and are well aware of the upsets cup competitions can bring.

He commented: “We went up to St Johnstone and beat them in the [League] Cup, now Peterhead will be aiming to do the same thing to Ayr United.

“They will be full of confidence. Their form has been pretty decent which has got them at the top end of their league.

“They’ve had a few seasons where they’ve been up and down a wee bit, but they seem to be going really well at the moment, and we are fully aware of the problems they can pose us.

“They’ve got good, experienced players in certain positions who have been around the block, so if we are not on song it could be a shock result.

“I’m questioning people’s mentality, and that’s going to be a big thing we are going to have to deal with on Saturday.

“We’ll go up there as a majority of people’s favourites, but it doesn’t always work out like that - especially if your head’s not correct and you think you are better than you are and you’re not ready to muck in and deal with what the opposition is going to give you.”

Ayr reached the quarter-finals of last season's Scottish Cup, but missed out on a last four tie at Hampden after losing 2-1 at Falkirk - something Bullen is determined he doesn't want to experience again.

"That was my biggest disappointment in coaching so far, because of the potential opportunity to go further," he said.

“That was a sore one, losing a late goal with a big deflection - and we missed a penalty.

“But it’s gone now. We’ve got to move on, we’ve got to deal with that. The players would love to have that again - that’s what we talked about this morning.

“We talked about the opposition, and making sure we are right mentally, but also the opportunities that the cup brings you.

"The Scottish Cup is a brilliant tournament. I've always loved the Scottish Cup and the FA Cup when I was down south.

“You want to get as far as you can, but if not, there is a chance you could draw one of the big boys and go to Tynecastle, or Celtic Park, or have Rangers or Hibs at Ayr United.

“It’s a bit of a payday for the football club as well – the financial side of it, if you are looking at it with a business head, is really important as well.”

Most important of all, though, for the Ayr boss, is getting results back on track 

Though most important of all for Bullen is simply getting results back on track after a four-match winless run in the Championship.

"A game's a game," he continued. "Off the back of a defeat you are just desperate to get a game so you can put it right.

“It didn’t matter if it was cup or league. A lot of people say it’s nice to have the distraction from the league, but we just want games and to get out next win.

“That’s what we are aiming for, whether it’s the cup or the league.”