Billy Dodds is determined to haul Caley Thistle out of the Premier Sports Cup group stages – and help silence all who remind him of past failures in the competition.
The Inverness head coach is just over a month into the manager’s job and off to a winning start courtesy of Tuesday’s 2-0 win over Peterhead, thanks to goals from Manny Duku and Aaron Doran.
That victory took them second in Group A behind hot-favourites Hearts and this Saturday they host League Two Stirling Albion, who began with a bang by beating Cove last weekend.
Caley Thistle ready for Stirling test
The Caley Jags have not progressed from the League Cup group stage since the new format was introduced in 2016 and Dodds wants his players to create a little bit of history.
He said: “You are building up towards the start of the league on July 31, of course, but we really want to get out of the group. We know what’s required.
“Stirling Albion got a great win in their first match against Cove Rangers, although Cove had a few (selection) problems. They still got the job done well.
“If we repeat the way we played on Tuesday then we have a great chance of getting the job done, but if we’re not at it then we’ll make it difficult for ourselves.
“People keep telling me the club are slow starters and we’ve not got out of the group stages of the League Cup yet. I don’t look too much at what’s happened in the past.
“These players give me everything they can. If they don’t and we drop a level then we could drop points and be out of the section. I am more focused on what I want to happen and, if that happens, I’ll be delighted.”
Nothing beats buzz of the training ground
In March, Dodds joined Neil McCann, who was in interim charge at Inverness after John Robertson took time out for personal reasons.
The arrival of the former Scotland and Rangers striker coincided with an upturn in form as the side went from the cusp of relegation in the Championship to finishing a mere three points outside of the promotion play-offs.
Now head coach, Dodds admits there’s no better feeling than managing a high-performing group of pros.
He explained: “I loved being here last season. It gave me an appetite back for the game.
“We all love football and that’s why we talk about it all the time. I worked with the BBC, which was great, but nothing beats being on the training field.
“I came in to join Neil and I loved the results we got last season, but I also loved working with the boys and seeing how they responded.
“That’s why I was really keen on the job and my first month or so has been great. There will be hiccups, but long may this continue.”
Dodds also revealed that Robbie Deas returned to full training this week and new signing Billy Mckay should be on track to join the group at that stage next week. Anthony McDonald is not yet ready, but making steady progress.