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Coach Barry Wilson thrilled with young players as Caley Thistle see off Elgin City in friendly

Striker Austin Samuels, Aaron Doran and Billy Mckay get the goals as ICT impress against their weakened League Two visitors.

Inverness striker Austin Samuels bagged a brace against Elgin City. Images: Sandy McCook/DC Thomson
Inverness striker Austin Samuels bagged a brace against Elgin City. Images: Sandy McCook/DC Thomson

Caley Thistle first-team coach Barry Wilson picked out young Robbie Thompson for praise after their 4-1 friendly win at home to League Two Elgin City.

Livewire Thompson was a menace, creating three of the goals, with young players Harry Hennem, Ethan Cairns, Matthew Strachan and Keith Bray also involved.

Thompson, Cairns and Hennem, who have gained loan experience in the Highland League, were all handed new deals recently and will be eager to press for game-time in the Championship for Inverness.

An Aaron Doran goal, a double from Austin Samuels and a Billy Mckay strike did the damage for ICT, with Elgin’s first half leveller coming from Brian Cameron.

Players staking early claims – Wilson

Wilson was happy with the overall sharpness of the side in their first friendly fixture of the summer.

He said: “When you look at pre-season, you always want to come away without any injuries and we’ve got that. That’s a bonus.

“We scored some goals and everybody got the 45 minutes each we wanted them to get.

There was a debut for Caley Jags midfielder Charlie Gilmour.

“We will slowly progress it and maybe do the same on Tuesday against Nairn County to get ourselves ready for Bonnyrigg Rose (in the Viaplay Cup) on Saturday.

“The League Cup will be a gradual thing, but by the looks of it, the players have come back really fit, despite only having four weeks off.

“They have come back in good shape. We have not had to blast them as was the case in my day. The boys look after themselves.

“There were some good performances from some of the younger players in particular, so we’re happy.

“Pre-season is always a good opportunity, if you are out of the frame or whatever, or a fringe player to go and put yourselves in the manager’s thoughts right away.

“Robbie Thompson was involved in all three first half goals, for example. He showed good movement and good awareness.

“He has looked really good in training, including towards the end of last season as well.

“We’re delighted with them all.”

ICT number 11 Austin Samuels gets the first of his goals against Elgin City.

Low squad numbers testing for Elgin

Inverness, who finished sixth in the Championship, were back on the park little more than a month after losing 3-1 to treble-winners Celtic at Hampden in the Scottish Cup final.

Elgin arrived at the Caledonian Stadium with a familiar face as their recently-recruited player-manager Ross Draper won the Scottish Cup as an ICT midfielder in 2015.

City, who finished ninth in League Two last term, are – like Caley Thistle – are looking for a much-improved league season under Draper, who helped guide them to safety in co-caretaker change at the end of last term following Gavin Price being sacked in April.

Elgin were, however, without the experience of captain Matthew Cooper, Russell Dingwall, Jake Dolzanski, Mitchell Taylor and Fin Allen for this one.

Striker Liam Taylor, who recently joined on loan from Aberdeen, will be with Elgin from next week after being with the Dons in their pre-season Portuguese camp.

This friendly clash offered free entry for supporters with an invitation to donate towards the Section 94 group’s Raise the Roof campaign, aimed at getting the west enclosure covered.

Caley Thistle winger Nathan Shaw looks for an opening.

There was no place for 19-year-old striker Adam Brooks just 90 minutes after his arrival from Celtic on a two-year deal was confirmed. He should play against Nairn on Tuesday.

However, there were starts for new full-back Jake Davidson, who was at Queen’s Park last term, and ex-St Johnstone midfielder Charlie Gilmour, who was at Cove Rangers under Jim McIntyre last season.

There was also a second half appearance for trialist Harry Lodovica – a powerful forward who has come up from England.

Three early goals in roasting heat

The sunshine was baking but Inverness were quick out the traps with an opener after just six minutes.

A misplaced Draper clearance was collected by Doran, who hooked a terrific high shot over Daniel Hoban into the net.

However, Elgin were keen to ask questions of their higher-placed hosts and drew level on 11 minutes when, from a corner, Cameron weaved into the box before guiding a low shot beyond Mark Ridgers’ reach.

City had little time to settle though before they were 2-1 behind. Just four minutes later, a neat exchange involving Davidson and Robbie Thompson ended with a cross for Samuels, who slotted home from 12 yards.

Elgin City’s Dylan Lawrence goes on the attack against Danny Devine.

Inverness were almost in again when fine work from Thompson saw him come close to finding a way through, but Elgin stood strong.

However, on the stroke of half-time, Samuels was left in the clear in the box as he kept his cool before drilling the ball past Daniel Hoban.

Ex-Wolves kid Samuels, who penned a new deal last month, will be thrilled to have got off and running in this one.

There was an entire team change at the break for ICT and Billy Mckay, who also signed a new deal last week, added a fourth goal when he converted from a Nathan Shaw cross into the box.

There was plenty of endeavour from Elgin, but Inverness were well-drilled and soaked up the pressure. Dylan Lawrence, the main focal point up front for City, seemed the most likely to find a way through.

Debutants impress coach Wilson

Wilson was happy with debut aces Gilmour and Davidson on their first outings.

He said: “The new players looked solid.

“Charlie is quite similar to Scott Allardice (who joined Ross County last month). He has that range and style and does things nice and simple.

“Jake is an up-and-down the park full-back who is good on the ball.

“We’re beginning to shape up with the new players and we will hopefully have a good week in front of us.”

Elgin City player-manager Ross Draper.

Elgin’s focus is now fully fixed on getting ready for their own Viaplay Cup opener against Stuart Kettlewell’s Motherwell at Borough Briggs on Saturday.

As well as welcoming back a few of his senior stars, Draper hopes to add two more loanees, ideally in time for the weekend.

CALEY THISTLE: Ridgers (Cammy MacKay 46), Harper (Cairns 46), Welsh (McGregor 46), Delaney (Strachan 46), Devine (Duffy 46), Gilmour (Bray 46, Nixon 85), Doran (Shaw 46), Samuels (Billy Mckay 46), Davidson (Carson 46), Thompson (Trialist 46), Hennem (Cairns 46),

ELGIN CITY (4-4-2) – Hoban (McHale 46), Mitchell, Cruickshank, Cormack, MacEwan (Abraham 85), MacInnes, Cameron (Alexander 85), Cairns, Lawrence, Jamieson, Draper.

Referee – Gordon Morrison.

Attendance – 1040.