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Ross Tokely expects Inverness Caledonian Thistle to have to grind out results if they want to earn promotion from the Championship

By Alasdair Fraser

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Ross Tokely believes the absence of one dominant big-spender this season has blown the Championship title race wide open.

If Caley Thistle are to be in the thick of it, though, the club legend reckons they will have to become far more streetwise in managing matches.

Statistics from last season’s play-offs near-miss under John Robertson and then caretaker Neil McCann serve as a salient reminder of where the team fell short.

Only three home league games were won, while eight were drawn and two lost.

In all, there were 12 draws from 27 matches, more than any other side in the league. Converting even two of those into victories would have been enough to grasp a play-off spot.

Ross Tokely hopes that adding experience like Billy Mckay (centre) can help Caley Thistle become more streetwise and turn draws into victories.
Ross Tokely hopes that adding experience like Billy Mckay (centre) can help Caley Thistle become more streetwise and turn draws into victories.

Tokely, though, is nothing if not optimistic for what lies ahead after watching Billy Dodds replenish the ranks this summer.

“Kilmarnock and Hamilton have dropped down, but I think it is much more of a level playing field this year,” the club appearances record holder said.

“Hearts’ budget last season basically blew the rest out of the water. They had quality players, but performances weren’t that great and they ground out a lot of results. That’s what Caley Thistle will have to do at times this season. There were too many draws and dropped points.

“They need to get off to a good start and win as many of their home games as possible. That will make all the difference. When they’re not playing so well, they need to see it out and grind a result.

“In the Championship, sometimes you’ve just got to be able to go to places like Ayr or Morton in midweek and get a result by whatever means.

“They beat Raith Rovers 1-0 down in Kirkcaldy last year. That’s the kind of performance they need more of.

“There’s a great mix there again under Billy. They can’t expect to play well in every game but they still need to pick up those wins at the difficult grounds.”

The Championship has seen some illustrious winners since rebranding in 2013 – Rangers, Hibs and Hearts, twice. Tokely insists Caley Thistle can join them.

“If they can get Billy Mckay firing, they’ll be fine. He has the potential to really kick on again and they have the wingers in Tom Walsh and Michael Gardyne to provide for him. It certainly promises to be exciting season for the club.”

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