Caley Thistle forward Shane Sutherland is taking inspiration from Inverness first team coach Barry Wilson in his efforts to prolong his career.
Sutherland, who will turn 30 next month, was handed another crack at full-time football by Caley Jags this summer after being released by the Highlanders in 2013.
Wilson, who is part of John Robertson’s coaching team at Caledonian Stadium, made more than 350 appearances for Caley Jags and also played in the top-flight with Raith Rovers and Livingston.
Sutherland encountered midfielder Wilson during the latter stages of his playing career at Elgin City, who he also went on to manage.
Having spent the last seven years between spells at Elgin and Peterhead, Sutherland is hopeful the best of his career is still to come.
Sutherland said: “A lot of people say strikers hit their prime from 28 to 31, so hopefully my best is ahead. I felt I had a good season at Elgin last year before it got cut short.
“Hopefully I can hit the ground running at Inverness, as I feel I have in training.
“Barry played on until he was 38 and I actually played with him in his later years. Even though his legs might have gone a little bit, he always had the quality.
“He realised at a certain point in his career that it wasn’t all about your quality, you had to look after yourself a little bit and stay as fit as possible for as long as possible because it’s such a short career.
“He made the most of it through that, and it is definitely something I’m looking to do.”
Sutherland feels the switch to Championship side Inverness has made his persistence in chasing a full-time move worthwhile.
He added: “It was an opportunity I’d waited seven years for, having had opportunities to go full-time, but not been quite right at the time.
“Turning 30 this year, it felt like the right opportunity and maybe one of my last chances.
“I’ve worked hard and feel the fittest I’ve ever done, so age is just a number.”
Sutherland had already signed a pre-contract to join Caley Jags before the coronavirus shutdown to the Scottish football season, which has given the Wick-born forward more time to focus on maximising the opportunity.
Sutherland added: “The boys are buzzing to be back and especially me – it was a long time coming after signing the pre-contract in January. I’ve been looking forward to getting back full-time and it has been hard work, as you expect in pre-season, but great to be back in a full-time environment.
“All the boys have been good and it already feels like I’ve been here a long time.
“I knew boys like Daniel Mackay and Cammy Mackay from loan spells at Elgin, but with the rest of the boys it has been like a breath of fresh air.”