Richie Hart reckons Caley Thistle must put the pursuit of points ahead of playing pretty football now the Championship chase is into the second half of the season.
The former Inverness and Ross County midfielder, who won the second-tier title with Caley Thistle in 2004, knows what it takes to come out as the champions in a notoriously tough division.
Billy Dodds’ title chasers, who drew 1-1 with promotion rivals Raith Rovers at the weekend, host Queen of the South this Saturday and currently are two points behind leaders Arbroath.
Queens, who lost 2-0 at home to Derek McInnes’ Kilmarnock last weekend, are ninth in the table and have been beaten 2-1 twice by ICT this season.
Grinding out results is vital – Hart
Hart explained his old side have to put the foot to the floor to secure three points before back-to-back away trips to Dunfermline and Kilmarnock.
He said: “The Championship is such a tough league to call. You never know what way games are going to go in any given week. Teams can be inconsistent one week then spring a result the next out of nowhere.
“Billy will have the team fully prepared for teams against Queen of the South. Teams in the lower half of the table are fighting to climb the table.
“These games at this time of year are not always about pretty football. It’s about grinding out a result. You know these teams in the lower half of the league will battle and give everything they’ve got and Caley Thistle need to match that.
“Win the battle and try and get a goal and shut up shop. It’s all about getting wins and points to hopefully give them a bit of breathing space within their own pack.”
Fixture disruption aids Arbroath
The Caley Jags are ideally placed to have a real shot at glory this season and, while Hart believes they have a real chance, he reckons high-flying Arbroath might have been helped in their shock quest for success by some fixture disruption.
He said: “Caley Thistle have stayed in the chase going into the New Year, even with a wee bit of inconsistency.
“I know they’ve also had a game called off and Billy Dodds has spoken about how hard it is to plan and manage at the moment due to Covid. It’s very difficult to keep that consistency.
“Billy would have bitten your hand off to be in this position come the second week in January, as would most Caley Thistle fans.
“The Arbroath story is amazing. For them to be up there as a part-time club is incredible. It’s maybe too easy to say, because they’re part-time, they won’t be up there for the rest of the season.
“However, the regular breaks in games due to Covid or the weather has probably been a benefit to Arbroath. The breaks might well help the part-timers.
“What they have shown is they won’t go away lightly. Caley Thistle drew 0-0 there at the start of the month and the weather really is a leveller at Gayfield. It’s always a nightmare to play football there because the conditions are always difficult.
“Billy would have been reasonably happy to leave Arbroath with a point where there was no real damage done. They are still well in there.”
Scoring threat keeps ICT in chase
Hart feels Inverness’ ability to hit the net can help them remain in the Championship hunt.
He added: “There’s a good mix of youth and experience in this Inverness squad. They have shown they are capable of scoring goals.
“They have a really good opportunity to be up there at the end of the season. If they can secure wins now, they’ll be right in there at the end of the season.”