Caley Thistle goalkeeper Mark Ridgers says Scotland number one Craig Gordon has provided him with major inspiration in his own efforts to prolong his own career.
Gordon, who is in his second spell with Hearts, has reclaimed the national team gloves from David Marshall at the age of 38.
The former Celtic goalkeeper, who has 60 caps, made a pivotal late save in Scotland’s impressive World Cup qualifying victory over Austria in Vienna.
He went on to have a superb display in Hearts’ 0-0 Edinburgh derby draw with Hibernian on Sunday, prompting manager Robbie Neilson to claim Gordon can still enjoy another four years for both club and country.
Ridgers joined the Jambos from Ross County in 2007, shortly before Gordon made a £9 million switch from Tynecastle to Sunderland.
The Inverness goalkeeper, who recently turned 31, feels Gordon’s recent performances have shown him there is no reason why he cannot sustain his own career for a number of years.
Ridgers said: “I know Craig and I speak to him every so often, he was brilliant with me.
“These kind of guys set examples of showing you don’t have to be mega fit, you just have to look after yourself in a certain way to be able to perform at a high standard.
“It would be brilliant to play in the Premiership with this club, but as long as I’m setting a standard for myself now I know, the goal now is to try and go beyond that and get better.
“If I develop more into the latter stages of 30, I’ll continue to play.”
Ridgers, who recently signed a new two-year deal to remain at Caledonian Stadium until 2024, feels he is reaping the benefits of the experience he has amassed through playing regularly with Caley Jags.
Having previously had spells with Hearts, St Mirren, Orlando City and Partick Thistle before joining Inverness in 2017, Ridgers feels he is continuing to develop with age.
Ridgers, who has kept four clean sheets to help Caley Thistle win their five opening Championship games, added: “The one thing I have learned is the less touches of the ball I have in a game, the more I enjoy it.
— Inverness Caledonian Thistle FC (@ICTFC) September 12, 2021
“Believe it or not when you are younger as a goalkeeper, you sometimes get a bit too eager, trying to make saves and getting involved in games.
“As you get older you realise you don’t need to do that. A lot of it is about positioning, talking to the defence and helping them.
“If you can help them to stop the ball getting to you, that’s part of your job as well.
“That’s something that over the course of being at Caley Thistle I have developed massively, in being more vocal to the defence and trying to cut out as many shots as possible to make my job a lot easier.
“It seems to have worked with the amount of clean sheets I have managed to rack up. Hopefully there are a lot more to come.”
Inverness-born Ridgers takes encouragement from the number of local players making their mark in Billy Dodds’ first team, with Cameron Harper and Roddy MacGregor both recently joining him in signing long term extensions.
He added: “It’s really positive from the academy side of things. Five of the boys came up this year, and the likes of Cameron Harper and Roddy MacGregor are playing consistently and getting better.
“There was Daniel MacKay previously, but there’s also the likes of Ryan Fyffe and Lewis Hyde. It’s promising.”