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Billy Dodds says fitness not an issue as Inverness fail to make play-off history

St Johnstone v Inverness Caledonian Thistle – Scottish Premiership – Play Off Final – Second Leg – McDiarmid Park
(Image credit: Andrew Milligan)

Inverness manager Billy Dodds insisted fatigue was not a factor after his side failed to create history in the cinch Premiership play-offs.

Caley Thistle were looking to become the first team to successfully navigate six games since the current format of top-flight play-offs were introduced ahead of the 2013-14 season.

But they fell short against St Johnstone after slumping to a 6-2 aggregate defeat.

Saints are the fifth team to escape relegation via the play-offs, following in the footsteps of Motherwell, Kilmarnock, Hamilton and St Mirren.

Three teams have been promoted to the Premiership via the play-offs – Hamilton, Livingston and Dundee – but all were Championship runners-up and only had four games to play.

Inverness join Rangers and Dundee United in falling at the final hurdle after finishing outside the Championship top two.

But Dodds felt fitness was not an issue after his side got more time to prepare for the final than St Johnstone, who played their final Premiership game two days after Caley Thistle reached the final on penalties at Arbroath.

The scores were level with 45 minutes of the two legs left but Stevie May’s close-range finish seconds after the restart, followed by Cammy MacPherson’s deflected strike, put Saints firmly in the driving seat.

Aaron Doran missed a good chance to get Inverness back in it and both Callum Hendry and Shaun Rooney netted late counter-attack goals as Inverness threw men forward.

On the six-game schedule, Dodds said: “We didn’t find it that hard. I think the first two are the toughest because you play Friday-Tuesday, Friday-Tuesday.

“When we got our break of a week, you see when we go 2-0 down we are the team that are still going. They sat back, I know that, but we are the team that are trying to force it and we had a wonderful chance at 2-0. It wasn’t fitness whatsoever.

“The first four games were the toughest but there’s no excuses for these two because we got ourselves back in the tie at Inverness and I thought we had them after 45 minutes (in Perth). But credit to St Johnstone, they handled the pressure and got the goals at the right time.”

Dodds will take confidence from their near miss into next season and vowed to learn from their mid-season dip when they went 11 games without a win.

“We have still got a lot of the squad so I just have to add to it,” he said. “We have got that unity and team spirit so we just have to add the right ones.”

He will have to replace 37-year-old former Rangers defender Kirk Broadfoot, who is looking for a club closer to his Ayrshire home.

When asked what his plans were for next season, Broadfoot said: “Who knows? It will be closer to home though. I’ve got a family. It was a one-year thing, it always was. I’ve got a young family that I need to be with every night.

“I will keep playing if the opportunity comes up. If it doesn’t, I will retire. It’s been a good run. I will just take it as it comes.”

Dodds paid tribute to the departing defender.

“He has brought a lot to the club, not just as a player and the standards he brings but the person he is, the desire, the determined attitude,” the manager said.

“Sometimes big Kirk will be desperate to win and it’s a thing a lot of the boys haven’t seen before. But that’s why he has played in a UEFA Cup final. He has brought that standard – you have no idea how good a professional he is. For the young boys to see the things he does, it’s unique.”

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