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New striker bolsters Caley Thistle as Billy Dodds hails exciting window captures

Accrington Stanlet striker Joe Hardy has joined ICT until the end of the season.
Accrington Stanlet striker Joe Hardy has joined ICT until the end of the season.

Caley Thistle head coach Billy Dodds believes the loan signing of former Liverpool and Brentford striker Joe Hardy will crank up their chances of hitting the net as they hunt down the Championship title.

Four successive draws have stopped ICT from overtaking Arbroath at the top of the table, but only one loss in eight league games keeps them sitting just three points off first place. 

ICT head to promotion rivals Kilmarnock on Saturday, with 23-year-old Hardy arriving from League One side Accrington Stanley yesterday until the end of the season and available for selection at Rugby Park.

A scoring rate of 40 goals in 80 reserve matches when he was rising through the ranks at Brentford captured Liverpool’s attention and he joined the Pool in January 2020.

He played just once for the first-team, in a 1-0 FA Cup win over Shrewsbury Town, but did net six goals in 12 outings for the club’s under-23s.

He sealed a move to Accrington last summer when his Liverpool contract expired, but a calf injury has stopped him from featuring for the senior side yet this term.

The forward has, however, been in full training for two months, and has moved to the north of Scotland in a bid for game time.

Caley Jags head coach Billy Dodds.

Dodds was delighted to get him on board, especially with striker Billy Mckay being “touch and go” for Saturday after injury kept him out of the 1-1 draw at Dunfermline last weekend.

‘Natural scorer’ Hardy in games hunt

The Inverness boss is confident he’ll provide an added spark in attack when called upon.

Dodds said: “Joe will hopefully add goals. He’s a natural scorer, who has had a couple of injury problems, but he’s well over that.

“This season we have created a lot of chances and not taken as many as we should have, so he is a brilliant addition to the team and I’m looking forward to seeing him.

“In terms of the percentage of chances created, we need to be taking more.

“We’ve still done well over the season. We have a positive goal difference and are the second or third top scorers in the league. Overall, we’re doing well, but Joe’s arrival is an extra boost.”

Competition for places at Inverness

Hardy is Dodds’ third window capture, with Bristol City’s Sam Pearson and Dundee United’s Logan Chalmers arriving on loans last week and both coming off the bench against the Pars on Saturday.

Dodds, who wants one more new face before the window closes next week, reckons the trio will offer fresh concerns for their opponents.

Logan Chalmers on for his debut for ICT at Dunfermline last weekend.

He said: “We needed more pace in the team and we have got that in wide areas now with Sam Pearson and Logan Chalmers coming here.

“We now have an extra dimension to our attacking third. It’s not that our players were not doing well but we needed competition for places.

“That gives the other players a wee shove, so they know they have to keep performing or they could lose their place. That’s what I want here, healthy competition, which is great.

“We lost a couple of wingers, so it is great to get a couple of wingers in.”

Wide players shaping up superbly

Having now worked with Pearson and Chalmers for a full week, the Inverness head coach is excited by what they can offer.

He added: “From what I’ve seen, Logan Chalmers has unbelievable technical ability. He is quick, direct and can score goals.

Bristol City’s Sam Pearson, who made his ICT debut at Dunfermline.

“Hopefully he has the X-factor, where he can offer us that extra part in the final third. Some of what I’ve seen from Logan in training excites me.

“Sam Pearson looked great when he came on last week. I can see this week he has been really well coached. He has a brilliant appetite for the game and has a brilliant attitude and offers a lot of brilliant technical ability. He has been a real find.

“They have to do it on the pitch, of course, but we have a couple of really good ones.”

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