Caley Thistle boss John Robertson has been impressed with the way Shane Sutherland is grasping his second chance in full-time football.
The 30-year-old returned to Inverness from Elgin City in the summer and has scored two goals in his side’s previous three matches after an injury-disrupted start to the campaign.
Sutherland had been playing part-time since leaving Caley Thistle in 2013, but Robertson feels he can be a major asset in the Championship this season.
He said: “Shane has been great. He lost seven kilograms, which is a massive amount of weight.
“We didn’t think he had to lose as much as that. We felt three or four kilograms, but he got into it during lockdown and ended up losing seven.
“He has started back loving it again and he says he feels like a new player with a second opportunity.
“We spoke to him and told him that he had nothing to prove to anybody.
“He was here before and he spent seven years in part-time football with Elgin and Peterhead.
“I think a lot of people felt he would come back needing to prove a point, but he doesn’t need to.
“The goals he has scored in the lower levels shows he can score goals.
“He has played as a striker for us and done a good job, but he feels more comfortable coming in off the right. We can also play him off the front, so he gives us flexibility that can cause other teams problems.
“He has been injured. He tweaked his hamstring against Hearts at Tynecastle and missed four or five matches.
“Although Shane didn’t score during pre-season, if he didn’t have bad luck he would have no luck as he was hitting posts, bars and keepers were pulling off world-class saves from him.
“It was only a matter of time before a player of his pedigree scored.”
The Caley Thistle boss is pleased with his attacking options and hopes competition for places can bring the best out of his forwards.
Robertson, whose side are not in action this weekend, said: “We are starting to get options back.
“We have got Shane, James Keatings, Kai Kennedy, Daniel Mckay, Miles Storey and Nikolay Todorov so we are hopeful if we get them all up to speed we will have real competition for places.
“It will be up to the guy who is in to do the business.
“As a striker you want to start, but you have to know that your place is not secure. If you aren’t scoring goals, then the guy coming on could take your place if he does.
“Miles has looked sharp, Shane will score goals, Nikolay ran the front line for us with all these players injured and managed to get three or four goals himself.
“We are hopeful young Roddy McGregor, who has played a deeper role for us in midfield due to injuries, will kick on after getting his first goal.
“Then you have the talents of Aaron Doran, Kai Kennedy and Daniel Mckay, who we know can get goals for us as well.
“There is enough firepower, we just need to get them all up to match fitness. We are hopeful we can do that over the next few weeks.”