Midfielder Scott Allardice is thriving on the competition for places at Caley Thistle.
The former Dundee United player, who moved to Inverness from League of Ireland side Waterford in the summer, has started every Championship game for John Robertson’s men this season.
But with fellow midfielders David Carson, Sean Welsh and James Vincent waiting in the wings, the 22-year-old knows he can’t allow his standards to slip.
He said: “If I’m poor, I’m out, and I know that.
“I would expect nothing less, everyone’s in the same situation.
“That’s the way you want it to be, you need to keep the standards high, and I think I have so far but I need to keep raising them because I know that guys are waiting to take my place.
“I’m sure with the players they are, others will stay in the team if they get the chance too, so I can’t let my standards drop.
“Out on the training park some challenges go in, and you’re not getting much time on the ball.
“I like that part of the game, and even when I’m in the team I need to keep doing that to stay in and keep others on their toes.
“I know that if I was out of the team I’d be chomping at the bit.
“There are wee niggles between the boys, but that’s healthy – if we want to be a successful team we need to have that in training, and in the last few weeks we have.
“With boys coming back from injury, the standards have been raised, so it’s good.”
Allardice credits Caley Thistle boss Robertson for helping him make a smooth transition at his new club.
He said: “I love that I’m getting the chance to play every week.
“It makes a massive difference, it’s probably the first time I’ve got a gaffer that believes in me as a player.
“It’s not just me believing in myself, I have someone else who backs me to go and perform for him week in, week out.
“I need to perform because I’ve got David Carson and Sean Welsh chomping at the bit to come in.
“Last week when we slipped up, the manager said there was going to be changes, so we all have to be on our toes now.
“If we perform badly, we’re out.”
Allardice, who had spells with Bohemians and Waterford after leaving Dundee United last year, always felt he was capable of occupying a regular starting slot at Caley Jags.
He said: “I don’t think it surprised me.
“I knew I would get a chance when I spoke to the gaffer about coming up, but it probably came earlier because of the injuries.
“I always felt that the work I had done over lockdown meant that when the opportunity came up, I would be ready to take it and stay in the team.
“It came very early obviously, I was at an advantage because I was fit and other boys were playing catch up, and this season playing catch up is very hard.
“I think that has gone in my favour, but I always believed that when I got in the team, I would stay in.
“I believed I would keep up that standard, and now I need to keep raising it because if I don’t then others are putting the pressure on me.”
Caley Thistle return to action with a home match against Dunfermline this evening.
Inverness suffered a 2-1 loss at Alloa on their last outing and had the weekend off after their meeting against Morton at Cappielow on Boxing Day was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch.
Allardice said: “The postponement was frustrating, because we let ourselves down at Alloa.
“With the football we’ve been playing, we’re confident going into any game, but we let ourselves down.
“For the first 60 minutes I thought we were comfortable, but then we dropped our standards and we got punished for that.
“Alloa deserved their win.
“Dunfermline is going to be a massive test, but we believe in ourselves.
“I don’t think there’s any fear, whoever we’re playing we back ourselves to go and win.
“We’re a good team – we’ve got good attacking players and a strong defence.
“It is a tough game, but we back ourselves to go and play on the front foot and press them high.
“We’re going into the match to get the three points.”