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Home run again would suit holders Caley Thistle says first-team coach Barry Wilson

Caley Thistle first-team coach Barry Wilson.
Caley Thistle first-team coach Barry Wilson.

Barry Wilson hopes Caley Thistle can again get a home run all the way to silverware in this season’s SPFL Trust Trophy.

The Inverness CT first-team coach was happy for the club to be drawn against Highland League sides Brechin City or Buckie Thistle in the second round of the competition they hold jointly with Raith Rovers.

The competition, last known as the Tunnock’s Caramel Wafer Cup and formerly the IRN-BRU Cup, was last played two years ago when ICT and Rovers reached the final.

The effects of the pandemic meant that showpiece was never played and, with the 2020/21 competition shelved, it is back in a new form.

There are no English, Welsh or Irish lower league entrants this time, but B teams from the Premiership along with the top sides from the Highland League appeal to north fans.

Inverness was base for run to the 19/20 final

When ICT reached the final against Raith, they benefited from home ties against Morton, Alloa Athletic, Clyde and Rangers Colts.

Wilson is happy for that home run of ties to continue.

He said: “As a club, only Ross County have travelled more than us in cups, so a home draw is most welcome.

“We were disappointed not to get the chance to play in the final from two years ago. The boys worked so hard to get there. We were lucky that year where we seemed to get home ties all the way and we’re delighted to get another one.

“We just want to get the season going. It’s a good game where we can give opportunities to fringe players as we have so well in the past. I’m pretty sure we’re going to go down the same lines again.”

Caley Thistle won 3-2 at Buckie Thistle in last season’s Scottish Cup in a delayed tie in March of this year.

Brechin are reshaping after their demotion via the play-offs and have installed Andy Kirk as their manager, with former Scotland boss Craig Levein in as an advisor to the board.

Highland League opponents lie in wait for ICT

Whoever the Scottish Championship side face in the SPFL Trust Trophy on August 10 or 11, Wilson insists they’ll have done their homework on them.

He explained: “We played Buckie away last year and it was a hard-fought win in the Scottish Cup. The pitch was very poor on the night and we had so many players out, so this would definitely be a different kind of tie. Graeme Stewart has got them well organised.

“Brechin are a bit of an unknown quantity because they have changed so much since going down to the Highland League. They have changed their squad massively and have a new manager as well.

“We will do our due diligence and treat whichever opponent we get with aim to do our job properly when it comes around.”

The draw for the SPFL Trophy saw representatives from ICT and Raith’s Football Fans in Training programmes.

Ross County are the latest club to have been hit with positive Covid cases and Caley Thistle have also been struck with the bug this summer.

Cormack Park bounce game next up for ICT

A closed-door bounce game this Thursday in Aberdeen will get the Highlanders more up to speed ahead of their Premier Sports opener against Peterhead.

Wilson said: “Most clubs have had to deal with (Covid) at some level. We had our own Covid problems to deal with, but hopefully we are over that now.

“We are idle on Saturday, which allows us to prepare for the Premier Sports game against Peterhead next Tuesday.

“We have relied on the young boys in the friendlies against Clach and Forres and they did great. It’s important we now get more of our first-team boys involved, starting with a friendly against Aberdeen on Thursday.”

He added: “We aim to use the Premier Sports Cup for fitness, but also to progress out of the groups, which is something we haven’t yet managed. We need to balance that progression along with getting valuable game time for the boys.

“It will be a balancing act, but we will go into that Peterhead game with as strong a team as possible to try and win it.”

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