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Inverness Caledonian Thistle can hush Rugby Park when they face Kilmarnock

By Alasdair Fraser

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SHANE Sutherland reckons Caley Thistle can thrive by silencing the Kilmarnock faithful early in Saturday’s top of the table showdown.

Picture - Ken Macpherson, Inverness. Inverness CT(1) v Raith Rovers(0). 07.08.21. ICT’s Shane Sutherland breaks free from Raith’s Reghan Tumilty.
Picture - Ken Macpherson, Inverness. Inverness CT(1) v Raith Rovers(0). 07.08.21. ICT’s Shane Sutherland breaks free from Raith’s Reghan Tumilty.

The Rugby Park clash is likely to draw the biggest crowd the Inverness team has played in front of since late February 2020, when Hibs ran out 5-2 winners at Easter Road in the Scottish Cup quarter-finals.

Three 1-0 victories in the Championship so far have showcased a hardened and more ruthless mentality within Billy Dodds’ side compared to last season.

Sutherland credits that to a more balanced mix of experienced signings who are bringing the best out of younger performers.

Killie away will be the team’s toughest assignment yet, though, with the Caley Thistle striker relishing the prospect of a good atmosphere and fiercely competitive 90 minutes between two sides on nine points from nine.

“Our home fans have made a real difference and it has been fantastic to have them back, especially when you score a goal,” Sutherland said.

“It actually took a little bit of getting used to after the spell without fans when we were able to hear every little shout the manager made. That included him telling us what we were doing wrong!

“Kilmarnock have started well and they will have a good crowd behind them, but hopefully we’ll go there and silence them by starting well. That’s what we aim to do.

“We have our game plan and nothing else matters. If we stick to that, we’re confident we can get a result.”

Sutherland’s own performances have been impressive, particularly in terms of how he has linked play and worked tirelessly off the ball as part of the first line of defence.

While there is a thirst for more goals than the single strike he has to date, the 30-year-old former Elgin City frontman, now revelling in his second spell in Inverness, is enthused by the solidity on show, as well as sparks of flair and entertainment in performances that hint of better to come.

“We know there is more to come and we can play better,” Sutherland said. “There have been good moments in games and other times when we go a little bit quieter.

“Those are the moments where we’re defending really well as a team and working hard to stop teams creating chances.

“That’s a credit to the defence and Mark Ridgers in goal, but it is also down to the strikers and midfielders who are working hard to limit the opposition.

“We are giving teams a very small number of chances in games and it’s working well just now. Hopefully that will continue.

“As a team in general, the outlook is hard work, first and foremost, and then we feel our quality can come through in games. As attackers, we’d obviously like to score more goals. We’ve created enough chances and probably should have had a few more.

“But if we win 1-0 every week, it will get us where we want to be. The experience we have now helps hugely.”

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