Billy Dodds believes Caley Thistle are benefitting from goalkeeper Mark Ridgers reaching his peak years.
Ridgers produced a man of the match display against his former club Hearts in Sunday’s Premier Sports Cup tie, although Inverness eventually went down 1-0 at Tynecastle.
The 30-year-old is entering his fifth season since joining his hometown team from Partick Thistle in 2017, with 159 appearances and 56 clean sheets to his name.
Dodds feels Caley Jags are in safe hands with Ridgers between the sticks, and he believes the former Scotland under-21 international will be key to his side’s hopes of a successful Championship campaign.
Dodds said: “I think he has got better with age. I have said that to him on many occasions.
“He’s a Steady Eddy, we know what we are getting. He will win us a lot of points this season, but he’s a calming influence as well.
“When he’s on that form that’s what we are going to need. If we are going to do well in the Championship, we are going to need our goalkeeper to play well.
“I’m hopeful he won’t be asked to do as much as he was on Sunday. I thought that was down to Hearts, they do move you about and they get into good positions and make good chances.
“I expected it, but the big man was brilliant.”
Despite falling to defeat at Tynecastle, Dodds felt his side’s display provided them with a strong benchmark for the start of league action away to Arbroath on Saturday.
He added: “I thought the performance was great, along with the organisation and work-rate.
“I would have loved to have snuck a draw before looking on to next week, but I’m looking forward to it anyway because the boys gave me everything and I think they are raring to go as well.
“I knew it was there. I know the couple of results we had, but there were other reasons for that as well.
“Of course it’s nice to get a good performance going into the first game of the season. We are not going to come up against teams of that quality all the time, so I know if my players give me that and they were organised like that we will do well.”
Caley Jags failed to qualify for the last-16 of the competition, with the loss to Hearts following up a draw against Stirling Albion and a defeat to Cove Rangers.
Dodds feels his side must learn from their slip-ups against lower league sides, adding: “When we are organised and sound defensively, I think we will be a good force to be reckoned with.
“The one thing I labelled at them against Stirling Albion was that they thought they could get the job done without working hard, I felt.
“On Sunday they showed they can work if they are ready for it.
“I want hard work, I want organisation and that is the thing I will take out of the games because when we played open against the lesser teams they caused us a few problems.”