Ryan Christie’s performance against Aberdeen was perfect evidence of why Caley Thistle must enjoy him while they have him.
Christie was the difference for Inverness against the Dons, firstly providing a skilful assist for Miles Storey’s opener by jinking away from former team-mate Graeme Shinnie as if he was not there, before adding a second goal with a swerving 30-yard strike.
Aside from further instances of sublime passing, trickery and a general desire to run at a shell-shocked Dons defence, those two contributions alone – within the first half-hour of the game – proved enough to inflict a first Premiership defeat of the season on the league leaders.
Virtuoso performances from Christie of the sort that downed Aberdeen have proven invaluable for Caley Jags on several occasions in the last 18 months, his contribution often being the difference between a point and a victory.
The only downside is there will not be another one on display in this weekend’s Highland derby against Ross County due to the midfielder’s late red card, picked up for two bookable fouls on Shinnie.
Christie’s absence is one Caley Thistle will ultimately need to get used to though.
Towards the end of last season, manager John Hughes admitted he was surprised at just how influential Christie had proven to be in his breakthrough season.
He ended the campaign with 42 appearances – 30 of which starts – to help Caley Jags record their most successful season in the club’s 21-year history by winning the Scottish Cup and qualifying for Europe for the first time by virtue of a third-placed league finish.
Rest assured there will be no shock if Christie starts every game he is available for during the remainder of his loan spell though, as Hughes knows Christie’s talents will not be showcased in red and blue for much longer.
Christie’s immediate future is at Celtic’s behest after he made the £500,000 move to Parkhead on a four-year deal prior to the summer transfer deadline, before being loaned back to Inverness for the season.
The Premiership champions made it clear at the time they were likely to exercise the option of recalling Christie in January, however, and the likelihood of that will only increase if he continues to impress for his hometown club.
Celtic will be keen to get him training and playing with them as soon as they can, in order to smoothen the undoubted step up he is about to make.
It will not happen with the flick of a switch. Christie is still developing physically, and that is a process that cannot be rushed. When he does join up with his new side, he will likely need to be patient due to the wealth of options at manager Ronny Deila’s disposal.
What is in no doubt, however, is the value of Christie’s talent to Caley Thistle right now. It must be savoured, as it could be worth a significant number of points in the Highlanders’ season.