Captain Sean Welsh had no qualms about signing a new Caley Thistle deal because he wants to lead the club back into the Premiership.
In a massive boost to Inverness supporters, the 32-year-old midfielder agreed to a new two-year contract at the start of the month.
This came just a week or so after the club were pipped in the Premiership play-off final against St Johnstone, a side they were level with after 45 minutes until a four-goal blitz from Saints blew them away.
The former Partick Thistle ace was out of contract, but he explained he was never looking to move away from the Highland capital.
He said: “I am happy here and settled with my family. We like living here, so it was just a case of getting the deal done and I was delighted to get it signed and get back to work.
“We are back after the (play-off) failure last year, but we are determined to really kick on next year.
“We have the nucleus of a strong squad. The gaffer has added two players already (Steven Boyd and Nathan Shaw) and if he can add another two or three then we will have a right good chance. We have to believe we can go one step further next season.”
And to try and win the title, they must avoid anything like the 11-match winless slump in the middle of last season.
The poor run of form threatened their promotion bid before a rousing finish to the campaign shot them back into contention.
Strong start is target for ICT captain
Seven wins and a draw got Inverness off to a flying start at the beginning of the league term last year and Welsh insists hitting the ground running allied with a less dramatic dip can bring rewards north.
He said: “We had a blip, which was too long in the middle of the season. We have to ensure that doesn’t happen again.
“If we can get off to anywhere near as good a start as we did last year, which was unbelievable, we just need to ensure any blips don’t last as long and we will have a great chance.”
Countdown to kick-off for ICT…
Caley Thistle’s pre-season matches start on Wednesday when they play Clach at Grant Street before heading to Brora Rangers on Saturday.
And Welsh says everything is geared towards being ready for the Premier Sports Cup kicking off on July 9.
Ahead of the Premier Sports Cup Group Stage beginning on Saturday 9th July, we can confirm the following pre-season fixtures
We will face @clachfc on Wednesday 29th June, 7:30pm kick-off.
— Inverness Caledonian Thistle FC (@ICTFC) June 9, 2022
He added: “Everyone will be desperate to get back to playing football from Wednesday.
“We have got the majority of the running work out of the way next week and there will be more of it next week, but then the games start.
“It’s just a case of getting minutes in the legs before the season starts next month at Kelty.”
New opponents welcomed by Welsh
The league season begins on July 30 with one of the newcomers visiting the Caledonian Stadium.
Play-off winners Queen’s Park, managed by former Ross County boss Owen Coyle, are first up, while Cove Rangers, with another ex-Staggies gaffer Jim McIntyre now in charge, visit two weeks later after a trip to runners-up Arbroath.
Welsh is relishing the chance to take on two new teams. He said: “It’s nice to see a couple of fresh teams in the league.
“The Championship is small in terms of the number of teams and you play the same sides often, so it’s good to have Cove and Queen’s Park up. I am sure they will come in and look for success as well, so we will need to be ready for that.”
Inverness in fine shape after break
It was a short break for the Caley Jags’ squad, with their last game against St Johnstone on May 23.
However, the skipper was glad to be back on the training pitch last week.
New signings Steven Boyd and Nathan Shaw in training this morning!
— Inverness Caledonian Thistle FC (@ICTFC) June 20, 2022
He said: “It was good to get back to work last week and be back in amongst the boys again. Everyone has looked after themselves and we’re in good shape.
“The first week went well and I’m happy to be back.
“The new players seem to have settled in fine too and they seem like nice lads.”