Caley Thistle captain Sean Welsh will make his first start since July as boss Duncan Ferguson aims to get the club’s Scottish Cup campaign off to a winning start against Cowdenbeath on Saturday.
Midfielder Welsh has not featured since a 2-1 Viaplay Cup group stage defeat at Dumbarton.
He was returning from the sidelines with a North of Scotland Cup semi-final appearance at winners Nairn County last month when he suffered a back injury.
Sheridan and Welsh set for cup starts
Then a freak injury when he leapt over a fence at the stadium halted him once more before he came off the bench at the latter stages of Saturday’s 1-1 Championship draw at Dunfermline Athletic.
Manager Duncan Ferguson, who replaced Billy Dodds in September, likes what he sees from Welsh and confirmed the former Partick Thistle player will get crucial game-time in their third-round clash against their Lowland League visitors.
He said: “I’ll make changes, although not too many.
“I do need to get minutes into other players.
“Cillian Sheridan needs to get minutes, as does Sean Welsh, who came back from injury against Dunfermline.”
ℹ️ The Matchday Info ahead of Saturday's Scottish Cup Third Round tie against Cowdenbeath on Saturday
🎟️ Get tickets in advance to avoid delays – Tickets available from https://t.co/iOIFJ8EV0e, The Club Shop 10am-4pm and over the phone on 01463 222880
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— Inverness Caledonian Thistle FC (@ICTFC) November 23, 2023
Ferguson keen to see best of Welsh
When asked specifically about his returning skipper, Ferguson made it clear he has a huge role to play in their season.
He said: “Sean is a good player. He’s a good football player.
“He has struggled with injuries, but he slotted in well on Saturday against Dunfermline.
“We need to get him up to speed with game-time, minutes and training. He’s trained hard again this week.
“Sean will be an important part of our team. I have a good team on the pitch right now and he will have to fight his way in, like everyone else when they are out of the team.”
Caley Jags pushed Celtic in final
Ferguson is well aware of ICT’s achievements in the Scottish Cup.
Not only did John Hughes’ heroes win it eight years ago, but Dodds’ stars were one victory away from repeating the feat as they lost the final this June 3-1 against Celtic.
The current boss watched as Daniel Mackay’s goal for ICT made it 2-1 with six minutes to go before Jota responded with a stoppage-time clincher for the treble-winners.
Ferguson added: “It was a fantastic occasion. I watched a big part of the game, and they did very well to take Celtic all the way until late in the game. They pushed them hard.
“This club has a good Scottish Cup pedigree.”
Ferguson’s team are out to make it seven successive matches without a loss since he replaced Dodds.
After three wins and three draws, they return to Championship action next weekend against second-top Raith Rovers.
On-loan Dundee midfielder Max Anderson will sit out this weekend’s tie against the Blue Brazil as he is cup-tied.