Caley Thistle manager John Robertson insists Saturday’s 0-0 Highland derby draw against Ross County has not changed his belief the Staggies are favourites to win the Championship this season.
Inverness’ goalless draw against their rivals ensures they remain one point above the Dingwall side, although they are now a point adrift of leaders Ayr United who capitalised on the stalemate with victory over Alloa Athletic.
Although Robertson was encouraged by his side’s showing against County, he feels the strength in depth possessed by Staggies co-managers Stuart Kettlewell and Steven Ferguson gives them an advantage over his own side.
Robertson said: “On Saturday we played very well, it took a good performance from County to deny us and it took a strong performance from us in the last 10 minutes to deny County winning it.
“Looking at their squad, they ooze quality. I still believe the team that finishes above Ross County will win the league.
“We saw the power they were bringing off their bench, and they have still got the likes of Marcus Fraser to come back from injury. They have got a very strong squad.
“We know we can’t compete with that, so we are not going to worry ourselves about it.
“We have to work hard with the players we’ve got, and the players are reaping the rewards of their attitude to training and the ideas we’re asking them to do on a Saturday.”
Robertson hailed the improvement of his side since the equivalent stage of last season, adding: “After six games last year we had four points, then we lost to Dumbarton. We were sitting second bottom of the table and in trouble.
“We didn’t look like we had a plan, we didn’t look like we could defend or score goals. We had a full and frank meeting about what we had to do to get back on track.
“We did that, we went on a run of seven clean sheets. Now we look like an organised side, with a plan of what we want to do on and off the ball.
“That’s down to the players – I can’t praise them enough.
“This time last year they were working hard but we hadn’t got what we wanted. They are now reaping the rewards of the work they put into training.”
Robertson confirmed attacker Nathan Austin is in line to return for Saturday’s home match against Queen of the South after missing out last weekend through concussion suffered in training.