Former Caley Thistle captain Stuart Golabek is confident his old club are going into the closing months of the season stronger under Duncan Ferguson.
The nine-minute hat-trick in Saturday’s 3-2 Championship win at second-top Raith Rovers by on-loan Ross County striker Alex Samuel captured attention nationwide.
The window signings of loanee defenders, Wigan Athletic’s James Carragher, Dundee’s Cammy Kerr, Leeds United and Scotland under-21s’ Jeremiah Chilokoa-Mullen and permanent signing of Remi Savage have given ICT a lift.
They have booked a fifth-round Scottish Cup clash at home to Premiership Hibs on February 10, and are now marginally closer to the top four than bottom spot.
Golabek, who scored the Highlanders’ first-ever top-flight goal against Dunfermline in 2004, and led them twice to promotion from the second-tier, has watched Ferguson’s winter business with interest.
— Inverness Caledonian Thistle FC (@ICTFC) January 27, 2024
Signings bring ‘fresh air’ to Inverness
He said: “In fairness, Caley Thistle’s performances so far this season don’t reflect where they are in the league.
“But the new signings have breathed some fresh air into the place. They maybe needed a few players to come in and mount a challenge for places.
“That’s been proved in the case of Alex Samuel, who was not getting game-time at Ross County.
“It was great to see Alex scoring a hat-trick in less than 10 minutes. He had been struggling for game-time at Ross County, but he is a good capture by Duncan Ferguson.
“He’s got off to a great start with three goals on his league debut. Long may it continue.
“New players adds to the positive feeling at this time of year. Boys who have been playing maybe feel their positions are under threat, which is not a bad thing. It will keep them on their toes.”
Caley Thistle must improve at home
Eighth-placed Inverness sit four points ahead of Callum Davidson’s Queen’s Park, who visit on Saturday, albeit ICT have played one match more than the Spiders.
Golabek hopes they can build upon their sparkling win at Raith by putting another victory on the board, which could take them up two places to sixth.
He said: “You have got to take care of your home games and anything you pick up away from home is a bonus.
“Their away form is not too bad, but their home form will be concerning for Duncan.
“However, if they can gather momentum at home and pick up more wins, they can climb the table. Three or four wins on the bounce can do that.
“If Caley Thistle can get the win against Queen’s Park, it will set them up nicely going into the Scottish Cup tie against Hibs the following week.
“I think whatever happens against Queen’s Park, they will go into the Hibs game with a lot of confidence.”
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— Inverness Caledonian Thistle FC (@ICTFC) January 29, 2024
Morton fine example for Inverness
Until this season, ICT had not lost a league fixture against Raith since 2000.
Therefore, Golabek was delighted to see them return north from Fife with a fine win.
And he says the example of Morton, bossed by his former ICT team-mate Dougie Imrie, is an ideal one to follow as the Caley Jags keep an eye on the reaching the top four.
Six wins and three draws in the league has catapulted the Ton from bottom position into the play-off spots.
He added: “Raith Rovers, having lost their previous two league games, probably expected a hard game against Caley Thistle – and so it proved to be.
“I’ve always said the Championship is a league where any of the teams down the bottom, on any given Saturday, can turn the so-called top teams over.
“Over the years, Caley Thistle have had a decent record against Raith Rovers. It was a great three points and it puts them in a position where hopefully they can build a bit of momentum and climb the table.
“Look at Morton under Dougie Imrie. They are now fourth. Dougie had a difficult start this season, but there was patience from the board, and he’s gone on a really good run.
“I am really pleased for him. He’s got a new deal until 2026. The chairman and the board didn’t panic, or think about making a change and, when you look at the (small) size of his squad and what he’s done over the past few seasons, it’s been exceptional.
“For Caley Thistle, if they can build a bit of momentum now, they can look forward to a really good second half of the season.”