Caley Thistle manager John Robertson insists all but two of his squad must prove themselves worthy of a starting place for Saturday’s Championship trip to Dundee.
Robertson was angered by Inverness’ lacklustre display in Saturday’s 1-0 defeat by Arbroath, which saw the second-placed Highlanders fall 14 points adrift of Championship pacesetters Dundee United.
Only goalkeeper Mark Ridgers and attacker Miles Storey escaped the wrath of Robertson, who has laid down the challenge to the remainder of his squad ahead of the visit to Dens Park this weekend.
Robertson said: “I’ve said before to the players, it’s a big mantra of ours that you play for the name on the front of the jersey and not the name on the back.
“You can get away with two or three players not playing to a seven out of 10 and still win a match.
“But we only had two players – Mark Ridgers and Miles Storey – who reached around a seven or eight out of 10 each. The rest of them never got above a three or four. That’s just unacceptable.
“I can only apologise to the Inverness fans – I’m not sure the players will be brave enough to do that.
“James McPake can worry about only two names on my starting team-sheet. The rest of them will have to work long and hard this week to get into the starting XI for the game.”
The manner of the defeat to the Red Lichties particularly irked Robertson, who added: “If you look at the last four or five home games, we have been at it and going at teams.
“To beat Dundee, Ayr and Dunfermline back-to-back and then throw three hugely winnable points away on Saturday is hugely disappointing. It came from nowhere.
“We got beaten at Partick recently when we had plenty chances to win. There was a desire to
go forward and win the game.
“We didn’t have that against Arbroath. We weren’t doing anything near enough to cause Arbroath problems.”
Although Caley Jags go into Saturday’s game with a three-point advantage over the Dark Blues, Robertson is bemoaning the dropped points which have prevented the Highlanders making a greater challenge on United.
He said: “That’s us lost twice to Arbroath, drawn with Alloa and lost against Morton. All of those games were highly winnable.
“That’s the difference between a title challenge and scrapping for a play-off place.”