Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner. Facebook Messenger An icon of the facebook messenger app logo. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Facebook Messenger An icon of the Twitter app logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. WhatsApp Messenger An icon of the Whatsapp messenger app logo. Email An icon of an mail envelope. Copy link A decentered black square over a white square.

Billy Dodds talks up Caley Thistle promotion play-off chances after they battled back from mid-season slump

Caley Thistle head coach Billy Dodds.
Caley Thistle head coach Billy Dodds.

Billy Dodds praised his Caley Thistle players for arresting a mid-season slump – and responding to become promotion hunters.

Inverness were in danger of slipping out of the top five in the Championship when they failed to win a single game over an 11-game run between December and March.

However, six draws within that spell kept them in it, and their red-hot form since a sweeping 3-0 rout of eventual runners-up Arbroath has taken them all the way to a third-place finish.

A 4-0 win against Hamilton on Friday has lined them up nicely for their Premiership two-legged play-off quarter-final against Partick Thistle this week.

On Tuesday night, they travel to Glasgow to face the fourth-placed Jags at Firhill before hosting Ian McCall’s men in the second leg on Friday.

Team ‘knuckled down’ to strike back

Head coach Dodds stressed the entire squad rolled up their sleeves when it mattered to turn the season from disappointing back to thrilling – in line with their sizzling start to the campaign.

When asked about the turnaround, he said: “We could have folded and accepted it – and that’s when it comes down to mental strength – but we never did that.

“We knuckled down and got on with the job. I was so positive and I know what the squad is all about.

“We were going through a bad time and the hardest thing was to turn it around.

“But I knew we could. I knew we were capable. That’s exactly what we’ve done and we’re in a really good place in terms of our performance levels and positivity (around the club).

“It has been a long season and it has taken a lot to get here, but there has been a collective to bring it together and the boys have done it brilliantly.”

Only top performances will do ICT

One loss in their last eight games for Inverness compares well to Partick’s two wins in nine.

However, Dodds underlined his side have to go and earn the right to face Arbroath in the semis next week.

He said: “We’re showing a good bit of form at the right stage of the season. We have to go into these games with the right mindset and focus.

“We have to ensure we’re at the top of our game, because it will take a big performance over these two legs to get us through to the semi-finals.”

Star Walsh in frame after double?

Winger Tom Walsh was dazzling in the 4-0 win over Hamilton on Friday by scoring two and setting two up.

Dodds said Walsh is in his thoughts, as are others – such as young Lewis Hyde and striker Joe Hardy, who got his first ICT goal.

The boss said: “A lot of the players who came in on Friday have given me something to think about.

Tom Walsh (right) celebrates his second goal in the 4-0 rout of Hamilton on Friday night.

“I am discussing my options with my staff and we hope we make the right choices to give us the edge to win the game.

“We never had numbers on the bench the other night against Hamilton, but we had quality.

“This is not about individuals. It is a squad game.

“I needed my full squad when we toiled from December to March and my squad has brought us through.

“Credit to the players. I have got choices to make. There will be a few disappointed, but they need to show me when they are disappointed the right reaction, because, when they do that and my subs come on and make a difference, that’s a blessing for a manager.”

Problem pitch in mind for Dodds

Partick’s problematic pitch has been the talk of the season. Their ground-sharing deal with tenants Queen’s Park has not made it conducive to free-flowing football, although there has been a bit of improvement of late.

ICT lost 1-0 on their last trip there in March and Dodds admits the rutted pitch is a consideration on how they will play.

He said: “It had an effect the last time we played.

“We can’t take any chances, you have to play what’s in front of you.

“I’d be crazy to say we’re going to Thistle – where the pitch isn’t in the best condition – and we’ll try to get the ball down and pass it.

The pitch was tricky for the players last time Inverness visited Firhill when they fell to a 1-0 defeat in March.

“We’ll try to pass at the right times in the right areas, but, if I said to build it from the back, lock me up!”

Partick Thistle will ‘work socks off’

It has been level-pegging in the four meetings with Partick this season and Dodds expects these two legs to be also closely contested.

He said: “We have drawn with Partick twice and we’ve won one apiece. That tells you all you need to know about Partick Thistle.

“We have got to be at our best. We’re in a good frame of mind – now we have to show it on the pitch.

Partick Thistle manager Ian McCall.

“They will be difficult opponents who work their socks off and they have a good shape about them.

“When you’re third and fourth in the league and in the play-offs, it is self-explanatory how hard these games will be.”

Fitness concerns ahead of play-offs

There will be late assessments on the fitness of injured defenders Kirk Broadfoot, Danny Devine and Wallace Duffy, and midfielder Aaron Doran.

Dodds added: “Danny (Devine) obviously had a head knock down at Queen of the South, so we’ve been monitoring that.

Kirk Broadfoot, right, has scored twice against Partick Thistle this term.

“Kirk has had a niggle in his back, so we’re choosing the right games for him. He has had a long season – he’s 37, but he’s been fantastic.

“There are a couple who haven’t played in preparation, but there have been a couple who are still carrying knocks, and those are the ones we’re waiting on.”