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Defender Danny Devine enjoying high spirits as Billy Dodds keeps Caley Thistle flying

Caley Jags defender Danny Devine takes to the air against Morton.
Caley Jags defender Danny Devine takes to the air against Morton.

Danny Devine reckons the seamless summer recruitment of Billy Dodds as Caley Jags head coach has been the perfect launchpad for their Championship charge.

The defender, who returned to the fold to help ICT post a 2-0 home win against Morton on Saturday, explained the mood within the Caledonian Stadium is one of high spirits.

It’s no wonder, because Inverness are enjoying a five-point lead over weekend hosts Raith Rovers, and Kilmarnock. 

Dodds was brought in last term under interim boss Neil McCann after John Robertson stepped away from front-line management.

Caley Thistle head coach Billy Dodds.

The former Scotland, Aberdeen and Rangers striker, who was assistant to Jim McIntyre at Ross County when the club were 2016 League Cup winners, was then handed the top job and they’ve got off to a cracking start with 22 points from their first nine outings.

Hitting the ground running under Dodds

Devine, now in his second spell at Inverness, is enjoying his football under Dodds, especially after experienced pair Billy Mckay and Michael Gardyne netted the goals to sink Morton.

He said: “You can see by the start we’ve had, we’re enjoying it. There is a good buzz about the place.

“It helped that most of the lads knew him from working alongside the (interim) manager (Neil McCann) last season. We have picked up from where we left off and hit the ground running under him. It’s a happy place right now.

“One of the most important aspects of the team this season is the good blend between experienced boys and the young lads such as Roddy (MacGregor).

“Saturday was another example of the energy he brings to the team. He was brilliant in the way he got about the pitch against Morton.

“We also have those experienced boys who have been there and done it. They can guide the long lads. It’s all coming together.”

Devine returned to bolster back line

ICT’s latest shut-out came with Devine’s return to the team and follows keeping out Arbroath, Raith Rovers, Ayr United, Kilmarnock and Dunfermline before the weekend.

The 29-year-old Northern Irishman took great satisfaction in the way the team snuffed out the threat from the visitors from Greenock.

He added: “Saturday’s result continued our good start to the season after the hiccup at Hamilton. We made sure that’s all it was, just an off day. It was great to get three points.

“As a defender, but especially a centre-half, clean sheets are what we pride ourselves upon. To get another one was good. We actually had a good run of them at the start of the season before losing a few sloppy ones in lately.

“Keeping clean sheets gives us a much better chance of winning games and it worked out for us.”

Taking care of our own business first

Killie drawing 2-2 late on at Dunfermline was an additional lift for the Highlanders on Saturday night.

Danny Devine is determined to keep ICT on the winning track against Raith Rovers.

However, Devine said: “We are just concentrating on ourselves. Of course, when we found out after the game other teams had dropped points it was an extra boost.

“It gives us another lift as we go to Raith Rovers and look to get more points on the board. However, if we can keep taking care of business on our side then we won’t go far wrong.”

Second v first showdown in Kirkcaldy

ICTs next few games are against top-five rivals. They go to Raith (second) on Saturday before hosting fifth-placed Arbroath next Tuesday, then head to Partick Thistle, who are fourth, a week on Saturday.

Devine knows, as the pace-setters, they are there to be shot at, but their focus is only on the next test at Kirkcaldy.

He said: “Everyone wants to be at the top of the league. Every team we play sees us up there, want to have a go at us and fancy their chances.

“We say about this league every single year, no matter who is in it, it is always really competitive. It’s very tough to get out of, but we need to keep taking it a game at a time and hopefully we can keep the good run going.”

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