Goalkeeper Cammy Mackay reckons he showed fans what he’s capable of when he impressed in high pressure games for Caley Thistle last season.
With Mark Ridgers sidelined through illness, Mackay came into the team amid a torrid time in mid-February.
The side had not won since thumping Morton 6-1 a fortnight before Christmas and needed a lift to remain within the top four.
After narrow defeats by Ayr United and Partick Thistle either side of a draw at Hamilton, ICT finally won, beating title-chasing, and eventual runners-up, Arbroath 3-0.
The Inverness goalkeeper helped the team go on a powerful run between then and the latter stages of the season.
His performance in a 2-0 win against Dunfermline Athletic was as vital as the goals scored by Reece McAlear and Austin Samuels.
Mackay, a Scottish Cup medal-winner in 2015, felt he performed well before Ridgers returned in the closing weeks of the promotion run-in, which ended in play-off final defeat at St Johnstone last month.
The 25-year-old said: “I was told at the end of last season my main job was to push Mark as hard as I could and, if the opportunity came along, I had to take it.
“I enjoyed the games I played in. We enjoyed some good results, some of which helped to change the season when we were on a bad run of form. It was good to be a part of that.
“It’s a case of now getting a good pre-season under my belt and pushing Mark as much as I can and see what happens.”
Strong start can set tone for season
After a Premier Sports Cup round of games against Kelty Hearts, Livingston, Albion Rovers and Cove Rangers next month, the Caley Jags’ focus turns to the start of the Championship games.
They kick off on July 30 at home to newly-promoted Queen’s Park before facing Arbroath away and Cove at the Caledonian Stadium in the opening weeks.
Mackay wants the team to set down an early marker like in 2021 when they rattled off six straight wins to get them off and running in sensational style.
New signings Steven Boyd and Nathan Shaw in training this morning!
— Inverness Caledonian Thistle FC (@ICTFC) June 20, 2022
He said: “We got off to a brilliant start last season, winning six in a row at the start of the season. If we can get off to another strong, unbeaten, start to the season it can give us good momentum.
“Our form at the start and end of last season is what helped to take us into the play-offs, especially that run towards the end of the season. That helped us massively and the momentum took us in on great form.
“We have tough games to start with, but if we can start off unbeaten and try to win our home games then the away games will take care of themselves.”
Fresh determination to succeed
ICT, who finished third in the Championship last season knocked out Partick Thistle and Arbroath in the play-offs before losing the final 4-0 at St Johnstone after being level at half-time in Perth last month.
That heartbreak played out on May 23, so a return to work this week comes at the end of a short break for the squad.
Mackay, boosted by the signings of ex-Peterhead and Alloa striker Steven Boyd, 25, and AFC Fylde winger Nathan Shaw, 21, is sure there will be a fresh determination to go up in 2022/23.
He added: “It was a disappointing way to end the season and we’ve not really had much time off.
“However, now we’re back in training, we have got going again. We have got some new faces in and around the club and we will give it a really good go.
“We always see ourselves up there, pushing for the promotion play-off places, as long as we can keep up there this season.”
Competition welcome within squad
Defender Danny Devine, meanwhile, also welcomes the signings this week.
These signings follow on from retaining Aaron Doran, Shane Sutherland and Wallace Duffy and the centre half is sure that can improve the team overall.
He said: “It’s good we’ve kept the core of the team for next season. The club have done well to keep a lot of experienced boys. That can play a big part next year.
“New players can come in and challenge everyone. You always perform at your best when there is someone there challenging.”