Caley Thistle manager John Robertson says this week’s Betfred Cup double header has arrived at the perfect time for the Highlanders.
Inverness have had a lengthy injury list during the early weeks of the campaign, leaving Robertson with restricted selection options.
Caley Jags are starting to welcome some experienced players back however, with Shane Sutherland, James Vincent and Aaron Doran in line to start tonight’s tie against Raith Rovers.
Attacker Miles Storey could feature in Saturday’s home match against East Fife following a hamstring injury, with Lewis Toshney, David Carson and Kevin McHattie still sidelined.
Robertson is pessimistic about the Highlanders’ hopes of qualifying from their section, having amassed only two points from their opening two games against Hearts and Cowdenbeath last month.
🎙️ ICTFC Boss John Robertson gives his thoughts on this afternoon’s game against Hearts
— Inverness Caledonian Thistle FC (@ICTFC) November 7, 2020
The Inverness boss is aiming to use the two fixtures to boost a number of players’ match sharpness.
Robertson said: “I don’t think we can qualify, I looked at the groups to check and even if we win our last two games with a big score, it doesn’t look like we can get through.
“We have to ask what we can get out of these matches, and for me it’s about getting players match fit now.
“This game gives them an opportunity to get plenty of minutes under their belts, because the young lads – Roddy MacGregor, Daniel MacKay, Cameron Harper, Scott Allardice and Wallace Duffy – have played a lot of games that if we had a full squad, they might not have.
“The next two matches for us are really about getting our injured players back into the fold.
“We’re hopeful that Miles Storey may join the squad in training by the end of the week, but it’s important we get these lads back up to match speed now.”
Midfielder Doran came off the bench to score in Saturday’s 2-1 defeat to Hearts, however Robertson will take caution over the Irishman’s return from a knee injury.
He added: “We’ve got to be careful with Aaron. The temptation is to rush him back in and perhaps start him.
“That may or not be the case against Raith Rovers, we will have a good chat with him. The last thing I want to do is throw him in from the start, try and get an hour out of him and suddenly he breaks down.
“Aaron in particular is one we will continue to manage and assess as to what is best for him.”
Robertson has been impressed by the early season form of tonight’s newly-promoted opponents, who top the Championship with 10 points from their opening four games.
He added: “Winning football matches gives you huge confidence, and that’s exactly where Raith are at the moment.
“They won’t get carried away under John McGlynn, he’s not that type of man.
“They will be enjoying themselves. That’s why it’s important for us to go down there to get a victory on the board, try to do the same against East Fife, and then get into the same sort of mindset Raith are in.
“Never underestimate the effect momentum and confidence can have on a team. If you have got that, you are a very difficult side to beat.”