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Players pitching in to push Caley Thistle upwards amid fresh injury blows

Caley Thistle first-team coach Barry Wilson. Image: SNS Group
Caley Thistle first-team coach Barry Wilson. Image: SNS Group

Caley Thistle coach Barry Wilson hailed the players for pitching in to fill the void amid a growing injury list.

Three big players – captain Sean Welsh, striker Shane Sutherland and winger Tom Walsh – have been sidelined with injuries all season.

Others have been forced in and out of action with knocks and niggles and midfield duo Roddy MacGregor and Scott Allardice came off in the 1-0 Championship win at Cove Rangers on Saturday.

That result, earned by Scott Boyd’s first goal for the club since joining from Alloa Athletic in July, puts ICT level with Partick Thistle at the head of the table.

Victory against basement visitors Hamilton on Tuesday would put Inverness clear top, albeit having played one more match than the Glasgow Jags.

Roddy MacGregor (left) and Cove’s Connor Scully in action on Saturday, but the Inverness midfielder had to come off in the first half. Image: Euan Cherry/SNS Group

MacGregor suffers ligament damage

Wilson gave an update for supporters on the latest injured players.

He said: “Roddy went for an X-ray, and it didn’t show a break, so that’s good news.

“It was so innocuous, but sometimes that’s where you fear the worst.

“It looks like ligament damage, he’s in a cast so obviously he won’t be available.

“Scott was taken off as a precaution more than anything else. He felt his thigh a wee bit, and it’s been tight for a few weeks.

“Unfortunately, it’s another couple of names added to the list of people that are touch and go for Tuesday night.

“We’ll give them every chance, but somehow the boys keep churning out results, which is incredible.”

After almost two weeks of training under his belt, Welsh might make a return to the squad on Tuesday.

A thigh injury for Inverness midfielder Scott Allardice led to him coming off at the break against Cove Rangers. Image: Craig Brown/SNS Group

Winning surge is ‘great achievement’

Before edging past Cove at the weekend, Inverness had won at Raith Rovers, Dundee and Ayr United and beaten Partick 1-0 at home.

Wilson explained, given their limited squad numbers, the players deserve plenty of praise for keeping pace at the top of the division.

He said: “To win five on the trot, four of them away from home, is a great achievement.

“Given that we’ve very rarely been able to fill a quota on the bench, and we’ve been playing some people out of position, we haven’t been able to play the formation or the style we have wanted to because of injuries.

“We’re trying, and the boys have given us 100 per cent every week.

“We felt we could have got more out of the games we lost. We could have played better, but there are reasons for that as well.”

Pride in clean sheets helping form

During their five-game winning run, Caley Thistle have stacked up four clean sheets, including in their last three league fixtures.

And Wilson believes a real pride in shutting out opponents is proving to be a solid foundation for their five-fixture winning push.

He added: “Clean sheets are vital. It was obviously the bedrock of our start to the season last year, and now we have had three 1-0s and four clean sheets in five.

“We’re asking everyone to do their job – even the wide men have done their jobs in tracking back.

“Dan MacKay, a couple of years ago, maybe wouldn’t have tracked back as much as he has to help his full-back. Wallace Duffy and Robbie Deas have been really solid at the back, and Mark Ridgers has been his usual self.

“They’re good ingredients to have, but it’s a team effort. They’re all working really hard.”

Hamilton Accies boss John Rankin. Image: Sammy Turner/ SNS Group

No complacency for Hamilton clash

Former ICT midfielder John Rankin became Hamilton manager in the summer, with Accies needing a lift.

It’s not happened yet and they are bottom of the pack. They did, however, take seven points from four matches against Inverness last season, and Wilson stressed nothing will be taken for granted ahead of this tussle.

He said: “I can see why there would be fans’ expectation, joint-top v joint-bottom at home.

“We know in this league, and hopefully the fans realise this as well, that there are no gimmes.

“There are no poor teams, so we’ve got to win the battle first before we can expect to go and play football.

“It was a battle at Ayr, and even on Saturday the conditions were tough, but we battled and ground it out.

“We have to apply ourselves properly first and foremost, and if we win that battle then we can start playing – and hopefully our ability in the final third will come through.”

Wilson ready for fresh challenges

When ICT were surging towards the promotion play-offs last season, they swept to a 4-0 win against Hamilton at the Caledonian Stadium in April, which came on the back of two losses and a draw in the meetings before that.

However, Wilson reckons what happened last season won’t come into play at all for this match rearranged due to the death of the Queen last month.

He said: “The last home game, we beat them 4-0, so we’ll try and replicate that if we can.

“I’m never a big believer in bogey teams, I think they all throw up different challenges.

“People thought we struggled against Arbroath, but out of six games I think we only lost one goal.

“There are little nuances with different teams, but we don’t look at what’s happened in the past.

“They’ve got a new manager, new players, a slightly different style of play, so we need to try and combat that.

“If we can replicate the workload we’re doing and get that little bit of quality in the final third, that will give us the best chance.”

Despite only winning once in the league this season, Hamilton only lost 2-1 against front-runners Partick Thistle at the weekend.