Ross Draper: Inverness’ close-knit squad is key

Ross Draper is named SPFL Player of the Month for August. Picture: SNS
Ross Draper is named SPFL Player of the Month for August. Picture: SNS
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Inverness midfielder Ross Draper believes their early-season success is rooted in their togetherness.

Caley Thistle manager John Hughes saw his first team remain entirely intact during the summer and the continuity has proven to be a blessing.

Inverness travel to Firhill today as Scottish Premiership leaders and without a goal conceded in their opening five games. Draper, Hughes and young player Ryan Christie completed a clean sweep of the Premiership monthly awards and the Englishman feels that team spirit has been crucial.

Draper said: “The gaffer said early doors that he has been in and around the game for a long time and he said that you go elsewhere and realise this is the best place to be, because of the way the lads are together, everyone living five minutes away from each other, all socialising with each other. It’s a nice place to live and everyone enjoys their football.

“Our success has come because everyone has stuck together. Bids have come in and the chairman has turned them down, because he knows it’s important to keep the squad together.”

Draper has combined strength and guile in midfield to help Caley Thistle to their flying start, but he could not have foreseen his award.

“It’s a nice award and something I didn’t think I would ever get to be honest, because I don’t score many goals,” the 25-year-old said. “It’s nice to be noticed and more importantly it’s a great achievement for the club to get a clean sweep. Everyone will expect us to get beat now. You get awards because you’re doing well. We have to take it and move on and keep grounded.

“It’s great for the club to get acknowledgement but other teams will be looking at it and thinking we are maybe the ones to beat.”

Meanwhile, Partick defender Stephen O’Donnell admits he and his side have not been up to scratch lately.

The Firhill side kicked off the season on fire by roasting Ross County 4-0 on the opening day of the Scottish Premiership campaign. But back-to-back defeats against newly-promoted Hamilton and a rejuvenated Aberdeen have taken the shine off their sparkling start.

Now O’Donnell has urged his team-mates to make amends for their last two lacklustre displays by shooting down unbeaten Inverness. He said: “We had a great start to the season but the last two games have been very disappointing in terms of my own standards and the rest of the team’s standards.

“We just have to make sure we do everything we can in training and then on Saturday’s game to make sure we bounce back. We played Hamilton and felt we should have done better. That was the result which really hurt. We came up the season before them but we certainly didn’t take it for granted that we would beat them.

“They played well, stopped us playing and have now won four games out of five, so you have to take your hat off to them.

“We didn’t manage to get that run at the start of last season but we have to forget about it.”