Caley Thistle manager John Robertson says Shane Sutherland has undertaken a rigorous fitness programme with a view to grasping his full-time opportunity.
Former Elgin City forward Sutherland signed a pre-contract to rejoin Inverness for a second spell in January, with his contract at Caledonian Stadium starting in July.
The 29-year-old returns to the club he left in 2013, having spent the last seven years with part-time clubs Elgin and Peterhead.
Despite having not played or trained since March, Robertson revealed Sutherland has lost around 6kg in recent months in a fitness drive geared towards being ready for the Championship campaign.
Robertson said: “We spoke to Shane, who had not long come back from an injury he suffered just after we signed him in January.
“The players were sending in their weights during lockdown. We were kidding on with Shane at that time that he was probably the heaviest player at the club. He wasn’t happy because he thought he was lighter than Mark Ridgers, and we were having a bit of fun about it.
“Shane was part-time and coming back from injury, so he was 92kg. The following month he was a shade over 90kg, the following month he was down to 88kg and he’s now 86kg. That shows the determination Shane has to hit the ground running.”
Sutherland has netted 99 goals across four spells with Elgin, while also scoring 15 goals in two spells which amounted to 18 months with Peterhead. Despite playing at a lower level, Robertson feels Sutherland has developed since his last spell with Caley Jags.
Robertson added: “He has scored goals for this club before. He has been here, Elgin, Peterhead, Elgin, Peterhead, Elgin and back to here, and if you look at his record he has scored goals for everybody.
“It’s a lower level, but if you are a goalscorer you are a goalscorer. We are hopeful Shane can keep up his percentage of goals.”
Robertson hopes Sutherland can be one of many goalscoring outlets this season, with the boss still hoping to add to his frontline. He added: “Shane brings great competition. He can play as a striker, off the front or wide right coming off the left.
“We hope Aaron Doran and James Keatings continue to chip in with close to double figures, while Miles Storey has shown he can play out wide or as a striker and Nikolay Todorov got seven goals from not many appearances.
“If we can get Roddy MacGregor and Daniel MacKay firing and hopefully add one more, we have great flexibility in the front men and good competition.”