Caley Thistle assistant manager Brian Rice has said no one at the club is giving a possible relegation tussle a second thought.
Tuesday’s 1-0 Championship defeat at Dunfermline coupled with a win for second-bottom Dumbarton means Caley Jags are now only six points above the Sons.
But Rice has dismissed talk of the club being embroiled in a second successive fight for survival and insists the team are only focused on clinching a top-four finish and a playoff spot at the right end of the table.
“No one is talking about a relegation battle,” he said. “You’re not looking below you, you’re looking above. Go to any club and they’ll say the exact same.
“It’s no more difficult than it was last season. But it’s a difficult league, the squad has changed dramatically and we have lost games we should’ve won.
“We all need to do better, it’s as simple as that.”
The recent spell of bad weather has added to Caley Thistle’s fixture pile-up, with 11 league matches and a cup final against Dumbarton to fit into the next six weeks.
A trip to Tannadice to face Dundee United is next up tomorrow, meaning another long journey for manager John Robertson’s paper-thin squad.
Rice said: “A lot of the top clubs don’t allow their players to travel too far because of the fatigue factor. We travel a lot and have a small squad, so it takes it out of them physically.
“The backlog is easy to cope with you have a large squad, you can leave those out-of-form on the bench and rest a few lads but we don’t have that luxury at the moment.
“It goes back to your squad depth and recruitment and we’ll look at it closely for next season.”
The lack of options means Caley Thistle have had no choice but to draft 16-year-olds Daniel Mackay, Jack Brown and Cameron Harper into the matchday squad.
Rice has been impressed with the young players but said it was earlier than he would have liked to have them involved
“Building a squad is definitely a priority,” he said. “Drafting in three lads from the under-17s, we’ve had to get them off school so they can travel with the first team.
“It’s great that we can call on those kids because they are great talents but it’s a little bit early for the three of them.
“To be involved with the first team is fantastic but we need a stronger depth in the squad to cope with the usual setbacks of injuries and suspensions.”