Cameron Harper is viewing today’s SPFL Trust Trophy match against Buckie Thistle as an opportunity to catapult himself to the forefront of Caley Thistle head coach Billy Dodds’ thoughts.
Left-back Harper has not started a match since the Premier Sports Cup group stage, with his only league appearance coming as a substitute in the opening day 1-0 victory at Arbroath.
Inverness coach Barry Wilson earlier this week confirmed Dodds would ring the changes for the visit of Highland League side Buckie, with an away tie against Elgin City awaiting the winner.
With the Highlanders coming into today’s game fresh from a perfect start to the Championship campaign which has seen them open with four straight wins and clean sheets, Harper accepts it has been difficult to break into the side but remains eager to catch the eye.
Harper said: “I’m just wanting to get back playing again. I have not played in a wee while, so I’ve got to take every opportunity I get to try and make an impression to the manager and try to get back into the team.
“It’s definitely a chance for me and some of the other lads who have not played as much to get some minutes. Hopefully we can give the manager some headaches.
“If you are a footballer and you don’t want to be playing every week, I think that’s a bit stupid.
“Hopefully I’ll be starting on Saturday and I can play as well as I can and do extra in training every day just to try and get back into the team.
“I don’t think I have to prove anything to the manager. I just need to show myself again and hopefully get back into the team.
“With four wins and four clean sheets, you can’t really say much. I’m not feeling bitter about it at all as it’s been one of the best starts we have had since I have been full-time.”
Dodds has given Robbie Deas the nod at left back for Caley Jags’ opening league matches, with Harper hoping the duel between the pair can bring out the best in both players.
The 19-year-old added: “Robbie Deas has come in at left back and done really well.
“Robbie and I can push each other. He’s more of a centre-half predominantly, but he has been doing really well at left-back.
“There’s a good vibe, there’s not any bad blood. We all just want to the team to be doing well.
“It’s a good group of lads, which is what you need if you are going to do well in this Championship.
“It’s healthy competition which is pushing us to be the best we can. It really works because we’ve got a tight-knit group so early in the season.
“I don’t mind it, it pushes us all to get better. It’s a positive, because we will dig deeper.”
Inverness will face Buckie for the second time this year, with Caley Jags edging a thrilling Scottish Cup tie 3-2 against Graeme Stewart’s men at Victoria Park in March.
Harper expects another difficult test against the Jags, who are second in the Highland League.
He added: “I came on against Buckie in the Scottish Cup match. It was a good game which finished 3-2, they ended up scoring late and then Daniel MacKay scored right at the death.
“We are the bigger team, but we will give them all the respect they are due. When you are going to grounds like Buckie, they make it hard for you.
“It’s probably a bit better that it’s here. They were a tough test last time, so it will be the same on Saturday I imagine.
“The game last year was maybe a bit tougher than we expected.
“They have started pretty strongly in the Highland League, so we are expecting a tough game, but we’ve just got to concentrate on ourselves.”