Scott Allardice insists no Caley Thistle player can take their place for granted as those in the bench are a match in quality.
The 23-year-old former Dundee United, Waterford and Bohemians ace has featured in all ICT matches this season, starting all seven Championship fixtures, helping the Highlanders to top spot in the table.
Six wins and a draw at Dunfermline has fixed Billy Dodds’ side three points clear of Kilmarnock after their 2-1 weekend victory over Queen of the South.
Skipper Sean Welsh made a scoring return to the side and Michael Gardyne, after three weeks out with an ankle injury, netted a late winner after a scorching second half leveller from Lee Connelly.
Midfielder Allardice reckons the standard of players waiting in the wings for game time highlights the wealth of talent at the club right now.
He said: “You look at the bench in the past couple of weeks and you have boys there who will feel they should be starting. It’s like for like throughout the squad. There’s no real drop in quality.
“Everyone know the levels they need to reach to stay in the team. The boys coming in have got the ability to play at that level as well. It’s a very promising sign for us.
“In the midfield, we have four players battling it out for two places at times. We all back ourselves as players.
“As a central midfielder, I know I’m being pushed to stay in the team and others know that as well. That can only be a good thing to have.
“If others come off the bench, they know they need to hit the ground running to try and impress and that’s only going to benefit us.
“It’s a long season. People will have dips, but when you have someone pushing you all the way, it makes it all the better.”
Second goal would be massive for ICT
While thrilled to have helped the side secure their sixth win from seven outings, Allardice believes putting rivals away when on top must be a target.
He added: “It was a big three points on Saturday, especially given the way the game panned out.
“In the first half, we controlled it, but we need to start killing teams off when we’re on top. If we can score the second goal, it changes the whole game.
“At 1-0, they are always in the game. On Saturday, they were always in it and scored a screamer. We made it harder for ourselves, but we came through it in the end.
📺 Highlights of Saturday's 2-1 win against Queen of the South can be found online now
— Inverness Caledonian Thistle FC (@ICTFC) September 27, 2021
“With the run we’re on, if we draw games, we need to ensure we pick up three points in the next match. We have momentum with us. We just need to keep picking up as many points as we can.
“It was probably a good point at Dunfermline the week before. I wouldn’t call it two points dropped. We showed a great reaction to get the win against Queen of the South.”
Sticking together is working a treat
While match-winners such as Gardyne will get the headlines, Allardice explained that every single player is doing all they can to stay ahead of the pack.
He added: “We have stuck together as a team, whether we have conceded or scored. We have the quality to hurt teams as well, but we need to keep working for one another to maintain these standards.
“It’s not just the goalscorers who are playing their part. It’s the back four and Mark Ridgers coming up with big saves at crucial times when opponents are looking to kill us off.
“Yes, the forwards are scoring goals, but everyone is chipping in with their side of the game. If we can keep that up, we’ll be in for a good season.”
Allardice wary of Accies’ potential
On Saturday, the Inverness team travel to Hamilton, who are second bottom of the table after a trick start to the season after relegation from the top-flight.
They have only one league victory on the board as former Ross County coach Stuart Taylor gets to grips improving Accies after Brian Rice left the manager’s job in August.
🔜 This Saturday we're in action as we face @acciesfc away from home.
🎟️ Tickets available online via @Fanbase_clubs
🚌 @ICT_STC Supporters Bus leaves Stadium at 9:30am this Saturday
— Inverness Caledonian Thistle FC (@ICTFC) September 28, 2021
Allardice is not reading too much into their next opponents’ league position and knows only another strong display will be good enough to get a positive result.
He said: “Hamilton have just come down from the Premiership, so we know their league position is no reflection on the quality they have.
“They have maybe struggled for a bit at the start of the season, but it’s still early days. We’re well aware we need to go down there and battle and show our quality. We’ve done that in every game this season.”