Tokely encouraged by new crop of prospects coming through at Inverness Caledonian Thistle
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Ross Tokely does not seek credit for the latest batch of young talent promising to make the breakthrough at Caley Thistle.
But the club legend does take pride in witnessing the emergence of teenagers ready to take up the mantle of Ryan Christie, Graeme Shinnie, Liam Polworth and Dan MacKay before them.
Still the Inverness club’s record appearances holder, Tokely was 17 when he made his own breakthrough under Steve Paterson in the old Third Division.
A quarter century on, he is excited by the potential of Robbie Thompson, Ethan Cairns, Ally Riddle, Harry Hennem and Lewis Nicolson, all training with Billy Dodds’ first team in pre-season after signing full-time deals.
“I worked with those young lads at 15s level for about six months when I first came back to Caley Thistle from Brora in 2018,” the now under-16s coach said.
“Robbie Thompson is an excellent player and he, Ethan Cairns and Harry Hennem were the ones who really caught my eye. Ally Riddle wasn’t a regular at the time but has really developed through hard work in the last year or so – I know Ryan Esson speaks very highly of him. Lewis Nicolson is an excellent talent who has overcome a bad injury.
“Robbie stood out as he was a slightly smaller lad, but with bags of heart – and I love that. Ability-wise, you couldn’t question any of them.
“The coach Fiona McWilliams worked brilliantly with these lads for four or five years. I just came in for six months and really enjoyed it.
“They were a cracking squad. You could see the potential and they certainly deserve their chance to go full-time. By all accounts, they have done well in pre-season games. It is really nice to see.”