ICT boss John Robertson warns new boy Nathan Austin he faces a fight to regain his place

Caley Thistle manager John Robertson.
Caley Thistle manager John Robertson.

Caley Thistle manager John Robertson hopes Nathan Austin recovers from a hamstring injury in time for Saturday’s Scottish Cup trip to Dundee – but warned the striker faces a challenge to regain his place.

Former Falkirk attacker Austin pulled up with the strain early in his first start for Caley Jags against St Mirren this month, having made just one previous substitute appearance.

Robertson does not expect Austin’s absence to be a lengthy one but says he will need to be patient given the form of his attacking team-mates, who have helped the Highlanders up to sixth place with back-to-back home wins against Falkirk and Queen of the South.

Robertson said: “Nathan had not played much since we beat Falkirk in November, he had fleeting substitute appearances.

“He was just feeling a bit fatigued, he had been doing a lot of training work and got a slight hamstring strain. He should be OK for the squad travelling to Dundee.

“In saying that, he’s got a lot of work to do to get past the guys who are starting. George Oakley is leading the line great.

“For the first time since I’ve been here we’ve real choices to make. It was a difficult one to leave John Baird out but we felt Aaron Doran is coming on to a game and Connor Bell has been very lively.

“That’s what we want, for players to really fight for their places. When you are losing, you can make changes left, right and centre and they are justifiable.

“When you are winning, that’s when you really have to look at your squad. We’ve had to be cute and clever over the last fortnight.

“We’ve left players out, not because they’ve played badly but because we’ve needed to rest them.”

Inverness remain three points adrift of the Championship promotion places but Robertson feels his players are developing momentum at a crucial stage of the campaign, adding: “We are picking up the points – that’s the most important thing.

“We’re gathering a bit of momentum. There are 14 matches to go and come the last four or five matches we want to be right in the thick of it.

“If we continue this run of form, and add a bit of quality if we can, we will not be too far away.

“We are still under the radar at the minute but I think a few teams will start to see us in their rear-view mirror.”