Shane Sutherland says “bubbly” Billy Dodds is also a determined head coach who wants to help Caley Thistle reach for the stars.
The Inverness striker, who rejoined the club last summer and has since signed a one-year extension, is hungry for goals and glory after previously banging them in for Elgin City and Peterhead.
Since his return to the Caledonian Stadium, where he first came through the youth academy, he’s gone from learning from one class striker to another.
Hearts legend and ex-internationalist John Robertson – now Inverness’ sporting director – brought him back to Caley Thistle, and he’s now learning from a new boss in former Scotland, Rangers and Aberdeen forward Dodds.
Dodds – who was interim Inverness boss Neil McCann’s assistant at the end of last term before taking the manager’s job permanently – is full of life and high spirits, which the players like, and Sutherland explained there’s a winner driving them on daily.
Speaking ahead of Saturday’s home cup clash with Stirling Albion, Sutherland said: “John Robertson signed me and I was delighted to come back.
“The season started and I was a bit disappointed with a slow start, but the manager had his personal issues to deal with and everyone wished him well. He’s back at work now, which is good to see.
“Neil came in with his own way of thinking, with his own style and it nearly took us into the play-offs. You can’t argue with what he done.
“Then Billy came in to join Neil and he’s such a bubbly character in and around the training ground. It was upbeat, even when results didn’t go our way.
“Billy would lift the boys’ spirits if maybe Neil was a little bit down with a result. He’s his own man now, which is good for us. He’s a recognised face from the end of last season.
“He’s still that bubbly character, but he still demands his standards and that will drive us on to ensure our standards are as high at all times.”
Sutherland hails strong scoring start by Duku
Six goals from 30 appearances last term was a decent return as Sutherland readjusted to full-time football.
He played his part as new signing Manny Duku and long-time class act Aaron Doran scored in Tuesday’s 2-0 home Premier Sports Cup win against Peterhead.
— SPFL (@spfl) July 14, 2021
Sutherland said: “It was great for Manny to score in his first competitive game. As a striker, I know how important that is and he’ll want to kick on.
“Aaron, after a disrupted season last year scored a great goal and had a great game and having Tom Walsh back at the club was good.
📺 This Saturday we face @Stirling_Albion at the Caledonian Stadium
The Match is available on PPV for £10 on https://t.co/8eSzkdu4Vr
🎙️ @AlanJZycinski and ICTFC Legend Ross Tokely on commentary
— Inverness Caledonian Thistle FC (@ICTFC) July 15, 2021
“I hadn’t played alongside him and I know the other boys felt like he hadn’t been away. Hopefully the fans saw it that way as well.”
Professional approach is key for ICT
Saturday’s cup visitors to Inverness, League Two side Stirling Albion, began their Premier Sports Cup campaign with a surprise 3-2 win at Cove Rangers last weekend.
Sutherland insists another professional approach from Inverness in Group A can help them see off Stirling ahead of Tuesday’s trip to Cove.
He added: “The cup games are good. Just because some are from Leagues One and Two doesn’t mean they’re not good.
“Peterhead caused us problems at times on Tuesday, but we went about our business in the right way. We concentrated on ourselves and didn’t give them too much of a chance.
“I am a fan of the League Cup in this format. As soon as you can get into competitive games the better. The competition also allows the five substitutions as well, which gives players that opportunity in terms of a fitness exercise.”