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Mark Ridgers says Caley Thistle’s rivals have head start in transfer race – and tells fans to stick by team as club look to strengthen

Inverness are bottom of the Championship after defeat at Airdrie - and the goalkeeper says strengthening the squad is a challenge.

Caley Thistle number one Mark Ridgers. Image: SNS.
Caley Thistle number one Mark Ridgers. Image: SNS.

Goalkeeper Mark Ridgers insists struggling Caley Thistle’s location is a high transfer hurdle which gives many of their Championship rivals a head start.

Saturday’s 2-1 defeat at Airdrie put ICT bottom of the table after their first three league matches, making it six successive competitive losses overall.

An unlucky Cammy Harper own goal after only 33 seconds put the newly-promoted Diamonds ahead and slack defensive play allowed Calum Gallagher to make it 2-0.

Adam Frizzell’s red card early in the second half opened the door for Inverness, but Nathan Shaw’s goal was all they could muster and the bad run continued.

With Dunfermline Athletic visiting the Highlands this weekend, head coach Billy Dodds is determined to sign more players before the transfer window shuts on Friday.

Full-back Jake Davidson, winger Luis Longstaff, midfielder Charlie Gilmour, and forwards Adam Brooks and Harry Lodovica have signed so far.

But defensively ICT are low in numbers, especially after Max Ram joined English National League North side Gloucester City on Friday.

Experienced number one Ridgers reckons being a north club with limited resources will always present challenges in attracting targets.

He said: “What we must realise is teams in this league can strengthen more than we can.

“What we have, we have to make use of it.

“We’re looking to bring in one or two players, but when Central Belt clubs come calling for players already based there, it is so difficult to compete.

“We’re already one step behind teams, because persuading good players – especially those with experience and with families – to come up to play in Inverness is difficult. They can’t move.”

Airdrie’s Callum Gallagher celebrates scoring after making it 2-0. Image: SNS.

Supporters must ‘stick with the team’

Ridgers, who has a club record 82 shut-outs from 242 appearances, is calling on fed-up fans to unite, raise their voices and back the players, who are determined to end the slump.

He said: “Our travelling support are always brilliant. We know it’s frustrating for them, especially when you come so close to being promoted as we have in recent years.

“The one thing for our supporters, who are brilliant, is they have to stick with the team.

“When we get a good support, it really can lift the team. It’s shown it can work in the past.

Nathan Shaw grabs the ball after scoring at Airdrie. Image: SNS.

“It’s frustrating for us all, the fans, the management, staff and players.

“One way to get through this is to stick together.”

One win can help turn form around

In the past two years, Caley Jags have slid to previous winless runs of 11 and eight games.

The nightmare slump in 2022 ended with an unexpected 3-0 rout of then title-chasing Arbroath, and it led ICT turning into promotion contenders by reaching the play-off final. 

Ridgers, 33, sees no reason why one big result in their favour against Dunfermline this weekend cannot be the turning point.

He said: “We went 11 games without winning two seasons ago, then we won a game (3-0 v Arbroath) and we never looked back.

“One bit of luck, a break of the ball, and it can change.

“It can flip around and you can go on a great run again.

“If we’re going to have a bad run, let’s hope we’ve had it now and we can get the result on Saturday against Dunfermline.

Caley Thistle head coach Billy Dodds on the sidelines at Airdrie, urging his men on. Image: SNS.

“It’s at home, so it gives us an opportunity to get the win and it can be a springboard for us to push up the league.”

Confidence is low and needs a lift

Ridgers knows conceding an own goal inside the opening minute against Airdrie was a hammer-blow.

And he believes the younger Caley Thistle players in particular are suffering from low confidence right now.

He added: “When results are going against you, these things, like the first goal, happen. Now it’s a case of hoping for something to go our way.

“The red card helped us in the second half, which helped to get us on top of the game, but I still don’t think we worked their goalkeeper (Josh Rae) enough and some of our crosses and decision-making killed us a bit.

Callum Gallagher knocks home Airdrie’s second goal in the 2-1 win over ICT. Image: SNS.

“That comes from players whose confidence is maybe a bit low.

“We have a young squad, apart from Billy (Mckay) in the forward areas.

“These boys want to do the right thing, but I think there’s maybe a little bit of fear at the moment. They are scared of messing up, but we need to get rid of that, because we are bottom of the table.

“It’s only three games, it’s nowhere near where we wanted to be, but there is a lot of football ahead of us this season.”