Caley Thistle goalkeeper Dean Brill is nearing a return from a 10-month injury absence, with manager John Hughes facing a decision on whether he or Owain Fon Williams will join back-up Ryan Esson at Caledonian Stadium next season.
Englishman Brill has been sidelined since suffering a dislocated knee in a challenge with Celtic’s Gary Mackay-Steven during Inverness’ 1-1 draw against the Hoops last April, but has recently stepped up his recovery.
In order to cover for the 30-year-old’s absence, Hughes last summer drafted in Fon Williams on a one-year contract, with the Welsh international an ever-present this season.
Veteran goalkeeper Esson, who is also the club’s goalkeeping coach, was last month signed up on a new two-year contract, and Hughes has laid down the challenge to his two other first-team custodians by saying there will only be room for one next season.
Hughes said: “Dean is getting closer. I said many months ago I reckoned it would be the end of February before he’d be looking for games.
“He’s working hard and he’s getting there. He’s starting to look good and he’s now doing a lot of specific stuff which is good news for him.
“We’ve got a decision to make on who will be the goalkeeper next year.
“It will be one or the other, I don’t think we’ve got the finance to keep the two of them but that decision is for a couple of months’ time.
“It’s the way football goes. That’s what’s good about it, when we’ve got competition for places it really pushes people along to give it their best shot.”
Hughes reserved praise for Esson, 35, saying the former Aberdeen goalkeeper is more than able deputy when required in addition to his coaching duties.
Hughes added: “In all fairness to Ryan, he still keeps himself very fit.
“He’s always played back-up but whenever we’ve called on Ryan he’s never let us down.
“He does a wonderful job in the way he coaches the goalkeepers – not just these two guys but the young ones as well.
“We’re delighted he’s signed a new two-year contract and we want him to keep doing the same role and keep working.
“He’s a hard worker and that’s what we’re all about at this club.”