Caley Thistle defender Danny Devine says recent weeks have shown title favourites Hearts will not get it all their own way in the Championship.
The Jambos lost their last league outing away to early pacesetters Dunfermline, before exiting the Betfred Cup at the hands of fellow second-tier outfit Alloa Athletic last weekend.
With Inverness looking to break into the play-off spots with a victory away to Queen of the South tonight, former Dunfermline and Partick Thistle player Devine feels a number of sides are capable of keeping up the pressure on Robbie Neilson’s men.
Devine said: “I have seen it the last two or three years in this league.
“Even with the likes of Dundee United last year, we saw them go down to Queen of the South and get beaten 4-0.
“No game is easy and I think Hearts are finding that out just now.
“They have an experienced manager in this league, so I’m sure he’s telling them, but you can’t take anything for granted.
“The league is very tight – I think this league always is until later on in the year.
“You might get one or two teams pulling away, but I can see it being quite tight this year under the circumstances.
“We know every game in this league is tough. It has always been like that for as long as I’ve been playing in this league.
“You can’t take anyone for granted. We will go down and we know it’s going to be a tough game against Queens, so we need to be on top form.”
Northern Irishman Devine is preparing to come up against Queens’ talismanic forward Stephen Dobbie, who has already netted four goals in seven outings this term after notching 54 strikes in the previous two campaigns.
Although Dobbie will turn 38 tomorrow, Devine says the former Swansea and Blackpool forward has shown no signs of letting up.
Devine added: “He’s right up there among the strikers I have played against. I can’t believe he’s almost 38 – when you play against him he doesn’t move like a 38-year-old, or have the goal record of one.
“I have come up against him now a couple of times, and he always throws something different at you.
“He’s obviously getting on a wee bit in his career, but he has all the tricks that an older experienced player would have.
“He’s been flying there in the last couple of years. The quality he has is top class and I think Queens are very lucky to have him. But it’s about us keeping him quiet, and doing our jobs.
“For us it’s just about concentration with players like that, dealing with his little movements and smart thinking.
“As a team, and especially the back four or five, we just need to be switched on for the full 90 minutes and beyond.”
Tonight’s trip to Palmerston will be Caley Jags’ first game since their 2-0 win over Raith Rovers on November 21, and Devine says his side are eager to kick on following the break.
He added: “The boys have had a weekend break, so we are raring to go.
“I think it actually did us the world of good in terms of getting bodies back. We have had a really bad injury list at the start of the season, we have been a bit unlucky with a lot of the senior boys feeling little niggles here and there.
“It’s good we have bodies back. We would have liked a game to carry on momentum from the Raith win, but I think we have to look at it being a bonus to have more players available.
“We need to build on our last performance which was very good.
“Hopefully we can really kick on now, get a couple of wins together and get ourselves up the table.”