David Raven backs Billy Mckay’s goals to return Caley Thistle to fame

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Caley Thistle legend David Raven believes Billy Mckay has the power to send the Highlanders back to the top.

His former ICT teammate was recruited by head coach Billy Dodds this summer after being deemed to be in excess of Ross County’s needs.

Settled in the Highlands, the 32-year-old was delighted to sign a two-year contract with the club for which he has scored 66 times in 157 appearances.

Having first joined the Caley Jags in 2011, he is now on his third stint at the club, having also returned on loan from Wigan Athletic four years ago before joining the county.

© SNS Group
Billy Mckay in action for Ross County against Caley Thistle’s Charlie Trafford in 2019.

Mckay is the club’s fourth-highest scorer, 16 goals behind Iain Stewart, with first-team coach Barry Wilson clearing 17 and Dennis Wyness the favorite with 101 goals.

Raven, who remains in touch with the former Northern Ireland international, believes it is a move that suits everyone and could prove fruitful in their race to promote the Championship.

Settled Mckay can use ICT in headline mix

He said: “Bringing in Billy Mckay and Michael Gardyne are good signings across the bridge. It’s local for them and they are top players. I spoke to Billy and he is more than happy to return to a club where he was scoring goals.

“Billy is at that age where his kids and family matter and so luck on Inverness’s part.

“It matters to footballers and if he, his children and his wife are happy in the area, he will generally play well. If he scores 20 goals, Inverness is promoted – it’s that simple.

“Billy Dodds, having worked there Neil McCann last season, brings a very good experience to this level. Looks like he’s building a solid squad and the club seems to be going in the right direction.

Raven, now the IMH Football Academy head coach at Ellesmere College in Shropshire, keeps a close eye on events at a club he served so well for six years until 2018.

One of the driving forces behind ICT’s 2015 Scottish Cup triumph, the former full-back admits the club really need to cross the finish line and make their comeback to the top flight.

Caley Jags is an attraction as big as Killie, says Raven

And he sees no reason why they can’t eliminate the Kilmarnock favorites in what should be a multi-club title hunt.

He explained: “The pressure is strong. The club must get out of this league.

“Kilmarnock might be the favorites because they might have a tiny bit of financial weight. The Killies have their history and are a big club, but listen, I really don’t see them as more of an attraction than Inverness.

“I really believe Inverness has a good chance. You don’t know how Hamilton will react to his relegation and what state of mind he is in.

“If you get a good 15-20 game streak, you end up in the middle of that. The beauty of the championship is that anyone can do it.

© SNS Group
Ross Draper, Carl Tremarco, David Raven and Gary Warren of Inverness CT celebrate with the Scottish Cup.

“Partick Thistle has been promoted so they will be at the top and Raith Rovers are another great club with the potential to rise to the challenge.

“This league, in many ways, is more interesting than the two-horse race in the Premiership where it comes down to who finishes third. The championship is wide open.

Caley Thistle is well known as slow beginners to collecting wins and they seem to pick up speed during the winter.

While Raven recognizes that the first few points are important, he also believes that staying strong until May is just as important.

He added: “Inverness will be looking to start quickly and getting points on board early on will be important, although you also need longevity to earn points throughout the season.

“I’ll be watching closely. I’m always on the lookout for their results and who they sign and don’t sign. I am still a fan and interested in the club and wish them well.

Caley Thistle started his competitive season on Tuesday with a home game against League One Peterhead in the Premier Sports Cup before welcoming Stirling Albion from League Two on Saturday.