Australian centre-half Nikola Ujdur has welcomed the sky-high training standards delivered by new Caley Thistle manager Duncan Ferguson.
The defender says the switch from training to match-days chasing Championship points is designed to be seamless as Inverness aim to pull away from the drop zone.
He would have been forgiven for still being jet-lagged when he faced Dundee United at the end of that week, with a late goal sealing a 1-0 win for the Taysiders.
Ujdur, who holds a Croatian passport, joined ICT from Sydney-based National Premier League NSW (New South Wales) side Rockdale Ilinden.
He has not only had to settle into a new country and way of life on the other side of the world, but had to swiftly get used to Ferguson being his manager. He’s enjoying it and praised all at the club for helping him with the big transition.
Energetic boss making a real impact
Although Ujdur didn’t get to learn Dodds’ ways of working, he has been impressed by the high demands delivered daily by Ferguson, who has previously been caretaker boss of Premier League Everton.
He said: “The manager has brought a bit of life into the boys.
“Training has gone up in terms of intensity and everyone is working hard. He is very energetic and that’s rubbing off on us. Hopefully we will see that in our games.
“The manager is a big personality, but I think that’s good. He’s lifted it from day one.
“It’s not been a case of (only) the first few sessions have been intense – it has been maintained at those levels. It’s like a new standard has been reached and hopefully it stays that way.
“You could see that from his first game where we beat Arbroath. We were energetic from the start and threw everything at them. That came from the training pitch.
“We had trained like that all week and it felt normal the way we played against Arbroath.”
Clean sheet is goal for ICT defender
Former Scotland, Rangers, Everton and Newcastle striking star Ferguson has only been the Caley Thistle boss for two games – the 3-2 win against Arbroath and the recent 0-0 draw against Partick Thistle. These results moved ICT off bottom spot.
Last Saturday’s match against Morton was postponed due to the stormy weather hitting much of Scotland and it leaves Inverness’ and current basement side ‘Ton level on just five points from eight matches.
There is then a six-point gap between Inverness and Dunfermline Athletic and Queen’s Park.
Ujdur has forged an impressive partnership with on-loan Livingston defender Morgan Boyes, who hopes to be clear of an eye infection in time for the weekend.
Ujdur is confident that, after blocking out Partick in their last game, whoever plays at the back can help bank the points.
He said: “As a defender, I was buzzing to get the clean sheet against Partick Thistle.
“As always, there are areas we can improve on, but if we show the attacking intent that we had against Arbroath, especially on the counter-attack, we’re dangerous.
“If we can keep solid at the back and get another clean sheet, we will be a hard team to beat.
“All the centre halves have shown they can hold their own. It’s a competitive position within the squad, so whether it’s Morgan or whoever comes in, we should be able to get the job done.
“Hopefully we can keep the clean sheets coming.”
‘Hungry’ Caley Jags ready for Airdrie
After two idle weekends, the Inverness defender insists the team “desperate to get out there” and try to to land a vital victory at the Caledonian Stadium on Saturday.
He added: “The postponement on Saturday came at an awkward time because we didn’t have a game the week before either (due to the international break).
“Although we had two weeks without games, we still went out on the training pitch and did our stuff.
“We’re not overloaded and I’d say it brings even more hunger to Saturday’s game. The boys are desperate to get out there.
“Airdrie are a ball-playing team, which we are as well, but we are looking for the three points.
“We have form going into the game and the boys are confident and the heads are high. If we all do our jobs, we should come away with the win.”