SPL preview: Inverness CT
English army or league of nations? Terry Butcher tells Alasdair Fraser it’s all about the quality (and money).
THERE is a myth circulating that Terry Butcher is massing the biggest English army in these parts since that other Butcher, the Duke of Cumberland.
While the Inverness Caley Thistle manager admits to targeting players from south of the Border, he insists they are cheaper and offer better value for money.
And just as Redcoats versus Jacobites at Culloden was much more complex than England against Scotland, there is a mix of nationalities in Butcher’s squad.
Four of Caley’s summer arrivals – David Raven, Jason Oswell, Gary Warren and Ross Draper – are English. But Richie Foran and Aaron Doran uphold Caley’s Irish tradition following Jonny Hayes’ move to Aberdeen.
And while Frenchmen Gregory Tade and Kenny Gillet have been lured away, Ross Tokely’s departure after a club record 589 appearances was symbolic, finally closing the chapter on past manager Steve Paterson’s considerable influence.
But Ryan Esson, Shane Sutherland, Nick Ross, young Matthew Cooper and brothers Graeme and Andrew Shinnie represent a strong Scottish core.
Ex-Hibs man Chris Hogg is, of course, merely an adopted Scotsman, but Owain Tudur Jones tweets regularly in Welsh. And then, of course, there is the intriguing signing of goalkeeper Antonio Reguero. Cherished as a bright youth talent under current Spain boss Vicente del Bosque at Real Madrid, he injured his back while on the cusp of first team football – he was understudy to Iker Casillas and training regularly with the likes of Zidane and Figo. He moved on to Villarreal for a successful spell but, at the age of 29, found himself plying his trade in Spain’s lower leagues. With a healthy bank balance from his La Liga days, Reguero said: “I am here for a little bit of adventure and change in my career, but also to do well for myself and for Caley Thistle.
“I was unlucky at Real Madrid but I have enjoyed a good career – and I’m very happy to be at Inverness.
“I came to the city for a trial at the end of last season after an unhappy spell in trying Thailand football, and it feels good to be back. Until recently, most of my football has been played in Spain, but I want new experiences in life.
“When I spoke to my agent he mentioned Inverness and Scotland and I immediately said ‘yes’. It is perfect for me.”
Reguero should push established Ryan Esson for a place, just as Northern Irishman Jonny Tuffey did before his summer departure.
The fear among a section of fans is that the new influx, like some loan players last season, won’t show the same passion as Ross County’s predominantly Scottish dressing room. That is a theory Butcher is keen to shoot down – emphatically.
“Certain Scottish players were costing more in wages and, to be blunt, we didn’t think some were good enough,” he insisted.
“The squad is smaller because it has to be, given finances, but we feel we have attracted good quality additions. I’d love to sign more Scottish players but I’m actually not concerned about nationality.
“The fans shouldn’t be concerned by nationality because these players are not going to give anything less than 100 per cent.
“What they should look at is the quality these players have and what they bring to the team – without putting the club in debt.”
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