ALI Sutherland sung Alanis Morissette on his first away trip with Caley Thistle — but there is nothing Ironic about the teenager’s promotion to the first-team.
As a form of initiation, players embarking on their first away day with the Caley Jags have to belt out a tune in front of their team-mates, but it is an experience Sutherland embraced as being part of John Hughes’ squad.
The versatile midfielder has made the bench a few times this season and made his debut as a late substitute against St Johnstone last month.
Far from being overawed at training with the likes of Graeme Shinnie, Ross Draper and Marley Watkins, the 18-year-old is relishing his quest for regular football.
“The lads like a laugh and a joke — when you go on your first away trip you’ve got to get out of your chair and do a sing-song for the lads. It’s a great laugh,” said Sutherland. “I sang Alanis Morisette’s ‘Ironic’ which didn’t go down too badly actually! It could have been worse.
“It’s great to be around them and you’ve just got to try and learn as much as you can from them. It’s a much higher tempo playing with the first-team and it improves you a lot.
“The aim is to kick on and get a few more appearances because you don’t want to be just happy with being on the bench. You want to be getting on and improving, showing the fans and manager what you can do.”
Brora-born Sutherland came on for now-departed striker Billy Mckay against the Perth Saints, however his natural position is in behind the main striker or split out wide.
He pays tribute to the coaches that have seen him through the ranks — Ronnie Duncan, Fiona McWilliams, Duncan Shearer and Scott Kellacher — and feels his game continues to evolve under the tutelage of Hughes and Russell Latapy.
Mckay’s departure has created a gap in the squad that Hughes has yet to fill, asserting that he would rather give Sutherland and fellow Development Squad player Calum Ferguson a chance if he cannot find the right player.
Friendly competition already exists between the pair, who both want a taste of top-flight football.
“He’s a year older than me so I’ve always been playing in the year group down from him. I played with him a lot and he’s great to play with. He’s always making runs and showing for the ball,” said Sutherland, who wants the Development Squad players to follow in Ryan Christie’s footsteps and break into the first-team.
“It’s good to have friendly competition between myself and Calum. We’ll be at each other’s heels all the time trying to do one over on each other and get ahead of each other. Marley has been doing great up top in the last few games so I can’t see me getting ahead of him. But that’s the aim, to get in there, and me and Calum will be fighting for that place.”
Making your debut is something all young players treasure and Sutherland will not forget the experience of coming on in front of his own fans.
“It was great coming on for a team I’ve played for and supported since I was young,” he said. “The manager said before I came on to try and get myself a goal. Carl tried to hold it up for me and put a good ball in. Unfortunately I just couldn’t reach it — maybe if I was an inch taller!”