Published: 06/10/2017 09:00 - Updated: 05/10/2017 14:21

Nick Ross makes Caley Jags return...but only for training

Written byPaul Chalk

 

Nick Ross in action for Dundee.
Nick Ross in action for Dundee.
SCOTTISH Cup winner Nick Ross is training with Caley Thistle this week - but he's not in a position to accept a short-term deal.

 

The Inverness-born midfielder, who won the cup with the Highlanders in 2015, is a free agent after leaving Dundee and is plotting a move to Spain.

Manager John Robertson will play the 25-year-old in bounce games this month and has given his a training berth within his Championship squad.

However, a contract was turned down by Ross as getting his fitness levels up tops the agenda.

Manager John Robertson explained: "Nick has expressed a desire to go abroad. We spoke to Nick at the start of the season and his dream move would be to go to some level in Spain, which we fully respect. Scott Kellacher was speaking to him a couple of weeks ago and he still hasn't got anything fixed up. we have extended training facilites to Nick and if he wants to play in the friendly matches we are fixing up, to help keep his match fitness up, that is available to him as well. We have touched on a potential short-term deal, but he feels his fitness is not at that level for it to be considered.

"He's a local lad who has a tremendous affiliation with the club and the very least we can do is offer him facilities to get himself fit and up to match fitness."

Tomorrow sees ICT, who are second bottom of the Championship, take on League Two Peterhead, with ex-ICT star Rory McAllister an obvious goal threat.

Robertson wants his players to build on last week's 0-0 league draw with Queen of the South and take the game to their visitors.

He said: "It's not an easy game. We are at home and against a lower league team, so we expect to be on the front foot and take the game to Peterhead, but the danger is there. Their Betfred Cup section is all the warning we need. They finished second in a group that contained Hearts and Dunfermline and, of course, beat Hearts at home.

"We have to be on guard. We have to play the football we are capable of with the ball and also defend well because we know the threat they have up front with Allan Smith and especially Rory McAllister, an ex-player of ours. He has nothing to prove, but he will want to come back here and do well. They also have Jason Brown at the back, who will want prove that this club were wrong to let him go. That's how these things work.

"We understand the threats they possess. They have got some experienced players in Willie Gibson, Simon Ferry, Jamie Stevenson and David McCracken. We know what we are up against. We are prepared and have had them watched twice. We go into the game full of confidence, looking to progress to the last eight."

Charlie Trafford is suspended following his red card in the last round against Aberdeen Colts, while skipper Gary Warren broke a thumb in training and Jake Mulraney is on Republic of Ireland duty.

The Inverness CT manager, therefore, will be fielding the strongest side he has available tomorrow afternoon.

He explained: "We're not in a situation to rest players. We have had a few boys injured, but they are coming back, although we have picked up a few injuries as well. There is no thought in our mind right now to bring players in. If you are winning games and you have very little injuries then yes you can rest players, but we need to build momentum and we have injuries, so it's not a consideration we have taken. We will play our strongest possible team because we want to give the competition the respect it deserves and we certainly want to give Jim McInally and his Peterhead side all the respect they deserve as well."

Last weekend's 0-0 draw against Queens was helped by a string of saves by Welsh international Owain Fon Williams in only his second game back in the team and Robertson insists it is up to fellow keeper Mark Ridgers to press to try and win his starting jersey back.

He said: "We made changes and Owain has come in and trained very well. He has got experience. He is an international goalkeeper and he was there for the saves that were required, which is exactly what we want.

"Owain has a big voice as well and is commanding at the back, so it was good for him to get his first clean sheet (of the season). he probably deserved one as well the week before and that's what we want, competition for places. Owain has the jersey at the moment and if he continues to perform like he did on Saturday then it will be tough for Mark to get it back, but that's Mark's job now - to perform in the friendly matches we arrange and wait for his opportunity."

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