AARON Doran believes he and his Caley Thistle team-mates can look forward to a first season of European football after victory at Tynecastle took them back to second place in the SPL. The Irishman, who set up Inverness’s first goal in their 3-2 win on Saturday, has already said he wants to stay at the club beyond the expiry of his current contract this summer, and the prospect of a Europa League place has only confirmed him in that desire.
“It’s great to be second,” Doran said. “We can start dreaming of Europe now. We want to go on the kind of run we went on at the start of the season.
“We want to keep winning. Inverness hasn’t finished top six before, so to qualify for Europe would be unbelievable.”
European football was literally unbelievable for Caley Thistle supporters during much of the club’s existence, but it is within touching distance now. Indeed, for Doran it appears wholly realistic – especially given the fact one of the stars of last midweek’s Champions League games was a player he has already come up against this season.
“I watched the European matches on television and the biggest shock was AC Milan beating Barcelona 2-0,” Doran continued. “Hopefully Inverness can be the ones creating a shock in Europe next season.
“I played against [AC Milan’s Stephan] El Shaarawy for Ireland under-21s against Italy back in September. He scored one, but we won 4-2 and I scored two so I outshone him.”
El Shaarawy is currently second top scorer in Serie A behind Edinson Cavani of Napoli. Doran reckons if he can get the better of the Milan player, he can hold his own against anyone.
“He was great the other night when he came on, but he didn’t do much against us. He was probably angry he wasn’t in the full Italy team and had to make do with the 21s. But to play against him, score more goals against him and beat him was a good night.
“I remember standing next to him in the tunnel and he was huge. I get a bit of stick over my hair, but his is wild.
“That night gave me a lot of confidence. I hoped I’d go on to score more for Inverness, but I’m happy to set goals up too like I did against Hearts.
“I’ve played every game here and I’m only 21 and I want to keep on improving. If we are in Europe next season, I hope I’m still here.”