John Hughes is finally ready to unleash summer signing Jordan Roberts in the Premiership, with the Caley Thistle midfielder in line for a start today against Hearts.
The Inverness manager had high hopes for the 22-year-old when he arrived from Aldershot Town in early July but a groin injury has since restricted him to just two brief substitute’s appearances.
Roberts came off the bench for seven minutes in the home Europa League tussle with Astra Giurgiu and then finally reappeared late in the 2-0 Scottish Cup victory against Stirling Albion 11 days ago.
Performances in training, though, have persuaded Hughes that Roberts is at last ready to play a far more meaningful part in the campaign.
Hughes said: “We’re going to have to give Jordan Roberts a real crack at it and see what he’s got. He has really been working really hard at training.
“He has shown a focused mindset and he’s probably ready to go. Jordan will probably think he was ready to go a couple of weeks ago but I still think he’s a couple of games away.
“I’m starting to see things in training I like and trust. I like knowing what players can give you and what they can’t give you. He’s been desperately unlucky since he first came here and we need to start giving him more of an opportunity.
“He’s got himself fit and is showing a real appetite in training, so you have to reward that.”
Caley Thistle hold an impressive 10-game unbeaten run against Hearts, having last lost 2-1 at Tynecastle way back on November 26, 2011.
The latest triumph came in September’s 2-0 win in the Highland capital but Hughes views the past statistics as meaningless.
He said: “It’s a good record but I don’t think that counts for anything. Hearts have been magnificent in their first year back in the Premiership.
“Although we beat them 2-0 last time, the game was nip and tuck – and I think it will be like that tomorrow.
“As a player, coach and manager over the years I just loved playing Hearts. The people at Hearts now are doing a wonderful job and they have fantastic supporters, always turning out in numbers.
“But after saying all that about them, it doesn’t faze us. I have great belief and trust in our players and no fear whatsoever taking Hearts on. If we’re at it, Hearts will be in for a game.”
A pitch inspection has been arranged for 7.30am today to determine whether the lunchtime game at Caledonian Stadium goes ahead.