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Mark Ridgers still open to Caley Thistle talks after turning down three offers from other SPFL clubs

The out-of-contract Inverness goalkeeper may switch to part-time football if he doesn't fix up a new deal with the Caledonian Stadium club.

Goalkeeper Mark Ridgers. Image: SNS
Goalkeeper Mark Ridgers. Image: SNS

Mark Ridgers is willing to open discussions with Caley Thistle on a new deal.

The out-of-contract goalkeeper claims he has still not had a call from the League One club, a suggestion the club refute.

The 33-year-old keeper became a free agent at the end of the season after his seven years at his hometown side ended in relegation from the Championship.

With his future in the air, he’s weighed up and rejected two offers from Championship clubs – and one from a Premiership side.

However, with a young family, staying in football in the Highlands or considering a job of a different sort to pay the bills is what he must consider.

A turbulent summer at Caley Thistle saw plans for the squad to train at the home of fellow League One club Kelty Hearts ditched after strong fan resistance and concerns of administration eased by news of “positive talks” with investors last week.

The club also confirmed it would play more Inverness and Highland players next season as season tickets and the club’s new home kit went on sale over the weekend.

Caley Thistle goalkeeper Mark Ridgers leads his team out against Arbroath.
Goalkeeper Mark Ridgers leads out Caley Thistle against Arbroath. Image: SNS

ICT have no contracted goalkeepers

Last week Ridgers, whose 91 shut-outs in 280 games is a club record, told the Press and Journal he’d not heard from the anyone at the Caledonian Stadium since relegation, despite manager Duncan Ferguson expressing a desire to keep him earlier this year.

Ridgers, who has also played for Hearts, St Mirren, Orlando City B and Partick Thistle, knocked back advances from suitors as he sought to help ICT remain in the second tier.

Now less than one month before Inverness kick off their Premier Sports Cup section away to League One hosts Annan Athletic, he’s still to get a call to offer him a chance to secure a contract.

With Cammy Mackay joining Brora Rangers and 18-year-old Corey Patterson signing for Forres, Inverness don’t have a recognised goalkeeper on board, with keeper and under-18 coach Ryan Esson also no longer on the books.

‘We don’t have millions in the bank’

With the Caley Jags planning to be rooted with locals, it was expected Ridgers would get the call.

However, Ridgers said: “With having the wee one, travelling away and the family being based here doesn’t quite work, so I have said no to the offers away from this area.

“I need to decide before the end of this month what to do. Do I give up full-time football and focus on getting another sort of job as I have my family to look after?

“I will be 34 in August and I still want to play football and I am still fit and good enough to play at a high level, but is it now time to try something else out?

“Caley Thistle have not approached me or spoken to me and it’s not on me to go asking them. That’s not my business and I’ll just keep my head down and see what happens.

Caley Thistle defender Danny Devine in the club’s new home kit. Supplied by Caley Thistle

“I’d rather be based near home and, like I said before, I am at a crossroads. Football, for as good as it is, is a short career. We’re not English Premier League players with millions in the bank.

“If Caley Thistle were to contact me, I’d definitely still consider it. There is a bigger picture now I must look at.

“The club have said they aim to play more local players, so it might work for us and I’d be willing to talk.

“I am keeping myself fit and ticking over.

“If it means I go and do other work, I’ll do that. What I have achieved in football is well beyond my expectations, having just set out wanting to play for Clach.”

In response to Ridgers’ comments, an ICT spokesperson said: “There has been contact between the club and Mark’s agent, as would be normal, but nothing else can be disclosed at this time.”

Squad being reshaped for kick-off

It’s understood the squad are due to report back for training next Monday, so Ferguson and the board will be working to secure players in the coming days.

While on holiday, Ferguson has been seeking to add to his player pool, with the emphasis changed with the group training at Fort George rather than Fife.

Meanwhile, Inverness will kick-off their summer schedule on Saturday, June 29 with a game at Highland League hosts Clachnacuddin and will go to Brora Rangers on Tuesday, July 9.

Between those fixtures, ICT will travel to Championship runners-up Raith Rovers for a friendly on Saturday, July 6.

This comes one week before their competitive campaign starts with an away tie against fellow League One side Annan Athletic in the Premier Sports Cup group stages.

Inverness manager Duncan Ferguson said earlier this year he wanted to keep Mark Ridgers at the club. Image: SNS