Caley Thistle winger Daniel MacKay hopes he can rediscover his early season form if he is handed a return to the starting line-up.
MacKay enjoyed a run in the side in the early part of the season, notching an assist against Dunfermline and a goal against Arbroath in the opening three league matches.
The 19-year-old has struggled to reclaim his place in the side since suffering a hamstring injury in the 2-1 loss to Hearts on November 7, in part due to the form of on-loan Rangers winger Kai Kennedy.
The departure of Kennedy, who has now joined Championship rivals Raith Rovers on loan, has opened up the door for MacKay, with manager John Robertson challenging him to grasp his chance.
MacKay is confident he can produce if given another run in the side, and he said: “It has been frustrating, but there’s not much more I could have done, to be honest.
“The two boys who came into the wide areas when I missed a game, Kai Kennedy and Shane Sutherland, did very well.
“It was hard to get a sniff, especially with Aaron Doran getting back to fitness.
“I’ve just had to knuckle down in training to show the manager I’m ready to go back in whenever he needs me.
“Of late, I’ve been showing that.
“Hopefully I get back into the team and, if not, I need to make a difference from the bench.
“I thought I was kicking on to a good game. I started getting my rhythm back playing every game, I was feeling good.
“Then, in the Hearts game, I went on a run in the first half and my hamstring tightened right up and I thought ‘here we go again – just my luck’.
“It was only just a wee niggle, thankfully.
“I know what I can provide to the team and the team knows what I can provide.
“I can get into good areas, create and score goals. Hopefully, if I get another run like that I can kick on again.”
Despite his lack of appearances, MacKay feels he played a role in keeping Kennedy on his toes, but believes he has different attributes which can prove valuable to the Highlanders.
MacKay added: “Kai came in and did well. I think we pushed each other when he was here. He knew I was there if he slipped up and vice-versa.
“I’m not saying I brought the best out of him, but he performed to a very high standard here and it was just unfortunate for myself I just couldn’t get in the team.
“I was doing well in training, but in the games Kai was one of our better players.
“Hopefully, now he’s gone, I can show the fans and the manager I can do the same job and maybe more in goals and assists.
“It was good to see him and see the different style of play. I’d say I’m more a direct winger and use my pace, whereas Kai was very technical.
“That showed me a different side to the game and it was good to see someone like him, around my age, come up and show what he was about.”
Inverness will play their first game of 2021 when they host Alloa Athletic today, following a succession of recent postponements.
Despite the Wasps’ lowly league position, MacKay is wary of Peter Grant’s side who ran out 2-1 winners when the teams met at Recreation Park last month.
He added: “Alloa are a very good passing side and, to be fair, I don’t think their league position speaks for the kind of team they are.
“They play good football, have good players and always seem to give us a good game.
“The boys will be sick of playing them as we seem to have played them so many times, but I’ve not actually featured against them yet.
“But whenever I’ve seen them, I’ve been impressed.”