Former Caley Thistle starlet Daniel MacKay has been impressed with the impact Duncan Ferguson has made in the Highlands.
The 22-year-old winger watched Inverness from the stands at the weekend as he took in ICT’s 1-1 Championship draw at Dunfermline Athletic.
The Pars, who hit woodwork seven times, scored in the closing minutes to earn a late draw after defender Danny Devine had fired the visitors ahead just before half-time.
With three wins and three draws overall, this result extended ex-Everton caretaker boss Ferguson’s unbeaten run to six games since he took charge at the end of September.
It means ICT are now up to seventh place, just four points behind fourth-placed Airdrie with a game in hand at Morton to come next month.
This Saturday, they turn their attention to the third round of the Scottish Cup as they welcome Cowdenbeath, of the Lowland League, to Inverness.
Enthusiasm rubbing off on ICT squad
MacKay, who is on his way back from injury while on a season-long loan from Hibs to Livingston, is sure the bubbly, driven nature of Ferguson will help the Highlanders kick on.
He said: “When Duncan Ferguson came in, they had some hard games to start with, against top teams that were flying at the time.
“Although he’d been away from Scotland for some time, he seems to have got the boys playing very well and they’ve gone back to basics and got them believing they are good players.
“They are playing with confidence. They have a good blend of experience, and added to it with David Wotherspoon and Cillian Sheridan coming in.
“The enthusiasm Duncan has brought to the boys will have helped. It’s showing on the park, which is good to see.
“We all know how strong, robust and fit he was as a player where he gave everything for his team and that shows in the Caley Thistle games lately.
“They have scored goals and dug out results, which you need to do in the Championship.
“It’s not always been about being pretty on the eye. They have a good blend and that’s what confidence does for you.”
Finished like a striker! 👏
Danny Devine's goal which opened the scoring against Dunfermline 🔴🔵 pic.twitter.com/LeWeUY7EgP
— Inverness Caledonian Thistle FC (@ICTFC) November 19, 2023
ICT must be wary of Cowdenbeath
MacKay knows just how tough Cowdenbeath can make life in a cup tie. However, he backs his old club to get past the Blue Brazil this weekend.
The attacker scored for Inverness in their 3-0 Scottish Cup semi-final win against Falkirk in April and in the 3-1 final defeat against Ange Postecoglou’s treble-winning Celtic side the following month when on loan from Premiership Hibs.
As a Caley Jags winger in October 2020, before he made the move to Edinburgh, he played in a League Cup group stage tie at home to the Fifers and they needed penalties to get a bonus point following a 0-0 draw at the Caledonian Stadium.
Then, Cowdenbeath were a League Two side. Now, they are 13th in the Lowland League after dropping out of the SPFL via the pyramid play-offs in May 2022, with Bonnyrigg Rose taking their place in the fourth-tier.
MacKay believes Ferguson’s Championship side have enough quality to win and reach the fourth round of the Scottish Cup on Saturday.
He said: “These ties are always difficult as these teams always have something to prove.
“The Scottish Cup provides shocks. Last season, we were knocked out by Queen’s Park, got back in and made it to the final.
“The cup provides a lot of memories for a lot of different reasons.
“It’s a competition Inverness have historically done really well in (including winning it in 2015). They will be looking to get off to a good start.
“They will probably be happy with the tie. Although it could be a banana skin, being at home helps a lot.
“In these games, you just have to do a professional job. Normally an early goal helps.
“Although Cowdenbeath have dropped down a level, they’ll still have dangerous players with SPFL experience.
“A lot of Lowland League players have played higher up, so you have to be careful, although I’m sure Inverness will be well prepared and ready to go.
“Cowdenbeath will make it hard. However, that’s not something Inverness are not used to. Many teams go to Inverness and make it hard to break them down.
“I’m sure Inverness will be well aware of the threats they’ve got. You just have to be patient in these ties and as long as you get the job done and you reach the next round, no one worries about how you got through.”