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We’ll miss fans – but health is top priority, says Caley Thistle forward Manny Duku

Forward Manny Duku has left Caley Thistle.
Forward Manny Duku has left Caley Thistle.

Manny Duku doesn’t want fans shut out of Scottish football again – but insists people’s health is the priority.

The Caley Thistle forward loves playing in front of supporters, but from Boxing Day there will be a 500-limit on live sporting events in Scotland as the Scottish Government reacts to rising Omicron cases.

Last year, fans were not allowed inside Scotland’s grounds to help stop the spread of Covid and the increase of the new variant in this country has led to the same again.

Duku said: “It was difficult (not having fans in grounds) last year as it was my first season in Scotland, with Raith Rovers.

“We were doing well as a team which had come up from League One and performed brilliantly. It would have been nice to have the supporters backing us. When you are doing well, they really can be like a 12th man.

“For us at Inverness, the team are doing well and are right up there, so it would be a massive loss if we don’t have our fans because they have been brilliant so far, especially the away support as they always back us and make a lot of noise.

“But also, we are in a pandemic, so we have to think about that. While we want our fans, we have to have health and safety because people are actually dying (from Covid). We want everyone to be safe.

“They would be a loss, but what has to happen has to happen for the greater good, for the future.”

A statement from ICT last night said: “Following the statement from Holyrood today, the club will be making an urgent assessment of how this impacts on supporters for the scheduled game on Sunday December 26 and those home games beyond that date.

“We thank you for your patience and understanding while we do this and we will make a further announcement as soon as we are in a position to do so.”

Chance for Partick to overtake hosts

Duku, meanwhile, insists Caley Thistle can’t wait to blast back to winning ways with a Boxing Day bout with Partick Thistle.

After three straight Championship victories, Inverness were rocked by a 2-1 home defeat at home to Hamilton on Saturday, which saw Arbroath edge into pole position at ICT’s expense.

Striker Duku, who only came off the bench in the closing moments against, feels the squad are determined to notch their 11th league victory of the season this weekend against opponents they’ve taken four points from this term.

However, with the Glasgow side, who beat Raith 1-0 last week, in with a shout of going top if results go their way, it adds another dangerous element for the hosts.

The 28-year-old said: “Partick are up there with us and they have the opportunity to overtake us if they win. It’s going to be a tough game for both teams.

“We beat them at home and in the second game we were quite dominant and we missed a penalty, so we could have won that as well.

“They will come here looking to beat us to make up for losing here already this season, while we want to return to winning ways, so it will be a tough game.”

Duku keen to hit goal trail for ICT

The former Raith Rovers front-man has started 11 of his 20 games in Inverness colours, but has been a substitute for the last four fixtures.

Duku, who joined Rovers from Torquay in 2019, explained now he’s injury-free, he’s ready to fire when given the nod.

He added: “Personally, the season has been a bit up and down. I had a great start to the season, although I’ve yet to score in the league, which is new for me.

“I was part of the team which began with five straight wins and a draw. Being part of that was amazing as we won six and drew one from our first seven league games.

“I was also out (of the team) with a few injuries after that, but I am back fit and I want to get back into the team and hopefully we can get the win on Sunday, we need that.”

Race for top four spot heating up

With only five points splitting the top five rivals, Duku stresses the importance of not being the team to miss out on a shot at promotion.

He said: “While it’s great to have five teams up there, it is also worrying because you don’t want to be the team that misses out on even getting a play-off.

Inverness striker Manny Duku.

“If you finish in the top four, you know the bare minimum you get is a play-off. That’s why you have to stay consistent and sharp in every game because one moment you can be top, the next minute you could be fourth or fifth.

“It’s very important for us to make sure we’re not the ones missing out. Worst case scenario is to ensure we finish in the top four to make the play-offs. Obviously, we’re wanting to win the league and go straight up.”