Injuries are worrying Caley Thistle manager John Hughes ahead of Thursday’s Europa League qualifier against Romanian side FC Astra.
Inverness’ friendly against Championship side St Mirren this afternoon is the final warm-up match before their European debut at Caledonian Stadium next week.
Preparations have been far from ideal, with defender Lewis Horner taken off in the 5-0 win against Forres Mechanics on Tuesday, while Aaron Doran limped off in the second half with a knee injury.
The match marked the return of defender David Raven, who had been sidelined with a calf injury, and midfielder Ryan Christie who had been out with a knee injury.
Hughes hopes defender Josh Meekings and midfielder Danny Williams return for today’s game against Saints, having both missed Inverness’ last two games. Long-term injury absentees Dean Brill (knee) and Richie Foran (knee) will miss the match against the side who finished fourth in the Romanian top-flight last season.
But the manager is more concerned about the minor injuries which threaten to hinder preparations.
Hughes said: “I would like to get everybody back, injury-free. We’re carrying too many knocks and that’s going to cause us a problem.
“We go with a small squad and it’s all hands on deck.
“The whole purpose of pre-season is for players to get themselves fit, but they have to get through it injury-free. That’s starting to frustrate me a little bit.
“We have to look after their welfare, and we can’t ask them to play injured. That’s part of football.
“My only frustration is we’ve not got a massive squad, but I’m grateful we’ve got a squad that can be adaptable and with players who can play in a number of positions, so nine times out of 10 we can get away with it. I hope we get numbers back for the St Mirren game and we’re ready to go.”
Hughes has warned any players who miss parts of pre-season risk being left behind in their efforts to be ready for the new season, adding: “Some of the players aren’t too far away, but I’ve always been told never to miss a pre-season because I’d be playing catch up.
“People think they can do it, but it never happens.
“It’s not just fitness levels, it’s touch, pass and movement. They have to be at it and sharp. They will be playing catch-up.”