Helping Elgin City to promotion is Caley Thistle-bound Shane Sutherland's aim
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SHANE Sutherland wants to give Elgin City promotion as a parting gift before grabbing a full-time opportunity at Caley Thistle next season.
Sutherland (29) will bring the curtain down on his fourth Borough Briggs spell after signing a pre-contract for Inverness, where his career began as a 16-year-old.
The lure of possible Premiership football next term proved too much for the attacker, who is expected to stay at Elgin for the rest of the current campaign.
Assuming Caley don’t try and sign Sutherland during the January transfer window, he will remain part of a City effort to make the play-offs and reach League 1 next season.
He said: “I can’t emphasise enough that it’s a pre-contract and I’ll be going there in the summer, but my main focus right now is Elgin City and Saturday’s game against Stenhousemuir.
“I’m an Elgin player until my contract expires and I’ll be giving them everything I can to get the team to the play-offs.
“The only thing that was going to get me away from Elgin, at this stage of my career, was going to be full-time football and luckily enough I’m getting the chance to do it again.
“The Elgin fans may think that I could have waited until the summer to see what options were available, but it’s security long term for myself. They could be a Premiership team next season so I could be playing in the top tier next season.
“If you weigh it all up, it was a no-brainer for me with the ambitions I’ve got to be playing at the highest level and full-time.
“People say I owe a lot to Elgin and I probably do because they supported me through my injury. But I think I’ve gone a long way to repaying that with the goals I’ve scored and some of the performances I’ve put in.”
Sutherland made his 200th appearance for Elgin last Saturday, captaining the team to a crucial 4-0 win at Annan.
He scored his 23rd goal of the season in the match and is just one short of equalling his own club record tally of goals achieved in 2016-17.
Sutherland said: “I’m proud to reach 200 games. I know it’s been in four different spells but there’s not that many people who play that many games for one club. So to score a goal and to round it off to captain the team as well, and a 4-0 win at Annan ,you couldn’t get a better day.”
The striker also needs just five more to reach 100 goals for the club.
“I set myself targets and the biggest target now is three points on Saturday,” he said. “But I’m only five goals away from the 100 so I would be lying if I said I wasn’t thinking about that, and as a striker I’d be disappointed if I didn’t get five goals in 16 games.”
He said promotion was the priority and City’s season would be seen as a failure if they did not make the play-offs, adding: “With the team we’ve got, it would be a let down if we couldn’t manage to get into the top four.
“It’s up to me to put the performances in to show I’m still fully committed to Elgin for the rest of the season.”