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FIVE Caley Thistle talking points from Duncan Ferguson pre-Dunfermline – as long-term casualty revealed

Injuries stack up as second-bottom Inverness get set for a massive Championship match against the Pars.

Caley Thistle manager Duncan Ferguson. Image: SNS.
Caley Thistle manager Duncan Ferguson. Image: SNS.

The news Leeds United loan defender Jeremiah Chilokoa-Mullen is out for the rest of the season dominated Caley Thistle boss Duncan Ferguson’s pre-Dunfermline press conference.

The Scotland under-21 centre-half, who only arrived in Inverness on a short-term stint last month, has suffered a stress fracture in his back.

He is among 12 potential absentees for Tuesday’s crunch Championship home meeting with Dunfermline Athletic.

Second-bottom Inverness could rise as high as fifth should they win – and other results go their way.

Anything less will leave the Highlanders in trouble ahead of Saturday’s trip to in-form promotion pushers Morton.

Team news: 11 injured, one suspended

Ferguson confirmed his thin playing pool had been weakened further by Chilokoa-Mullen’s diagnosis after just four ICT appearances.

Of the 19-year-old, he said: “Jeremiah has a stress fracture in his back, so he is out for the season. That’s a big one for us as he’s a good young player.

“We’re down to the bare bones.  We will reduce the load in training to make sure we don’t pick up any more injuries in training. It’s such a crucial time of the season.”

Jeremiah Chilokoa-Mullen, right, and Hibernian’s Myziane Maolida in action during the recent 3-1 Scottish Cup win for Hibs. Image: SNS.

Injured trio Harry Lodovica, Luis Longstaff and Lewis Nicolson were already out long-term, and Inverness’ crocked list is “mounting up”, according to Ferguson.

Defenders Nikola Ujdur (hamstring), Wallace Duffy (calf) and Morgan Boyes (knee) join midfielders Charlie Gilmour (knee) and Roddy MacGregor (foot) and forwards Alex Samuel (shin) and Adam Brooks (thigh) on the casualty list.

On-loan Dundee midfielder Max Anderson sits out Tuesday due to suspension, meaning a dozen players could be out for the Pars’ clash – with Samuel and Duffy rated as having the best chance of making the squad.

Cammy Harper’s stoppage-time goal earned ICT a crucial 1-1 draw at basement hosts Arbroath on Saturday.  

It keeps Ferguson’s team six points above Jim McIntyre’s strugglers, having played one match more.

Dunfermline ended a nine-match winless run in all competitions when they shocked third-placed Partick Thistle 3-1 on Friday to leapfrog ICT up to sixth position.

Ahead of the Caledonian Stadium game, the Fifers hold a two-point advantage and have played one fixture fewer than ICT.

Striker Samuel ‘has been in the wars’

Samuel, who is on loan until May from Ross County, has just returned from a broken left hand, but a challenge by Arbroath’s Adam Mackinnon, who is on loan at Gayfield from County, was one Ferguson felt should have led to a red card.

MacKinnon wasn’t even booked and Samuel carried on without stitches being applied to his shin.

The manager is keeping his fingers crossed the forward, with four ICT goals since joining last month, will make it.

He said: “Alex has since had four or five stitches on his shin and we’re hoping he will be available.

“He has been in the wars, the lad, with his broken hand recently as well.”

ICT forward Alex Samuel is a doubt for Tuesday’s showdown with Dunfermline. Image: SNS.

Boss calls for fans to play their part

After just two home league victories all season, Ferguson knows Caley Thistle fans are frustrated – as he, his staff and players are – but he is calling for supporters to stick by the players as they go for a crucial victory.

He said: “You’ve got to get behind your team. That’s what you do as a fan, I’d think.

“It is easy to sit there and criticise or moan. We all like a good moan.

“But to be fair, they haven’t had a lot to shout about at home, so I get it.

“But we need everybody, don’t we?

“Making sure Inverness stay in this league is not going to be easy.

“We’ve got a lot of injuries and the fans play a massive part. I just want the fans to get behind the team, as they have been doing, and try and get us over the line.”

Pulling away from Arbroath still key

Ferguson knows his players could move towards mid-table should they deliver a win against James McPake’s visitors, but he insists pulling further away from Arbroath is foremost in his mind.

He said: “We’re just worried about the team beneath us, as I am desperate to get away from the bottom as much as we can.

“We have been in this position for pretty much the whole of the season, yet we’ve never managed to get any daylight at the bottom.

“We have a couple of draws in the last two games, against Partick Thistle and Arbroath, but a win on Tuesday will push us into the pack.

“It is going to be a long season. There is a lot of football still to be played with a lot of important points, so Tuesday is a big one for us.”

Ferguson – Pars will be on a high

Friday’s Firhill win for Dunfermline will have lifted their mood no end, and Ferguson is urging his team to not offer any glimmer of hope to their opponents.

He added: “We expect the best from Dunfermline.

“They did very well to beat Partick on Friday and they will be on a high. We have got to make it as difficult as we can for them coming up here.”