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Mix of youth and experience can be winning combination for Inverness Caledonian Thistle, says Ross Tokely

By Alasdair Fraser

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Caley Thistle legend Ross Tokely is backing Billy Dodds’ policy of blending youth and experience in pursuit of Championship glory.

The Highlanders finished last season with four 30-somethings who could play a big role in this season’s promotion push – Mark Ridgers, skipper Sean Welsh, Aaron Doran and Shane Sutherland.

To those, new manager Dodds has added ex-Ross County pair Billy Mckay (32) and Michael Gardyne (35), both seasoned Premiership performers and Championship winners.

The club are also reportedly on the trail of released former Kilmarnock defender Kirk Broadfoot, who turns 37 next month.

Caley Thistle legend Ross Tokely knows first hand how successful having experience guiding youth can be. Picture: Ken Macpherson
Caley Thistle legend Ross Tokely knows first hand how successful having experience guiding youth can be. Picture: Ken Macpherson

While the former Rangers and Scotland veteran is in his career twilight, Tokely insists having a core of time-proven pros in the Caley Thistle dressing room could be hugely beneficial.

The squad holds youth graduates like Robbie Thompson and Ally Riddle, as well tried and tested youngsters like Cameron Harper, Roddy Macgregor and Norwich loanee Reece MacAlear (19). Wallace Duffy, Robbie Deas and Scott Allardice remain in their early 20s, while summer signing Tom Walsh is still only 24.

Back in 2009/10 under Terry Butcher, Caley Thistle stormed back into the top-flight with a similarly diverse age make-up.

“The likes of Billy and Michael have been there and done it,” Tokely said.

“If Billy can get firing, he will be huge and, from what I’ve seen, Michael remains at the top of his game. It could be that Billy Dodds has come in and identified that element was lacking.

“You don’t need a lot of older heads – maybe just three or four – and for us that season in the Championship it was myself, Grant Munro, Ryan Esson and Richie Foran.

“We helped the younger lads through, but we drew on their energy too.

“On and off the pitch, it was a major positive. We had the likes of Nick Ross, Jonny Hayes, Adam Rooney and Eric Odhiambo who were all still quite young and inexperienced, but they were excellent. They did the hard running and we offered that bit of guidance and game-management, pulling these guys through when they needed it.”

Tokely, the club’s under-16s coach and appearances record-holder, sees value in Broadfoot’s arrival, should the deal materialise.

“Some people might question it, but I’d see it as a positive signing,” he added.

“In terms of experience, he ticks all the boxes, and Billy Dodds and the club wouldn’t contemplate it unless he had the drive and the legs for the Championship.”

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