Former Haverhill schoolboy Josh Meekings has expressed his delight at securing a two-year contract extension with Inverness Caledonian Thistle.
The ex Samuel Ward Academy student is now tied to this season’s surprise package in the Scottish Premier League, where they currently sit in second place, until the summer of 2015.
Having moved north and signed a two-year deal after Ipswich Town released him 18 months ago, Meekings has this season established himself at centre-back in a team managed by former Ipswich and England legend Terry Butcher.
The 20-year-old, who recently spent part of the SPL winter break visiting his family in Cavendish, said: “It’s brilliant for me as I can just concentrate on my football.
“It gives me the opportunity to just go and play my football rather than worry about if I’m going to be kept on or not.
“Leaving Ipswich could have been a blessing in disguise. As much as it hurt me at the time “I’ve come out the other side a better player and it’s managed to help me gain a position in the Inverness team.”
Caley Thistle are in the last four of the League Cup, the last 16 of the FA Cup and are flying high in the league table, with only Celtic above them.
Their 1-0 league victory at Celtic - just two weeks after the Glasgow club defeated Barcelona in the Champions League - is rated by Meekings as his personal highlight of a season that has also seen him be in the team that returned from Rangers with a 3-0 win in the League Cup.
Meekings said: “They had pretty much a full house and it’s a huge game and they are the best in the SPL, so to beat them at their place is probably the best moment of the one-and-a-half seasons I’ve had here.
“I was delighted and everybody else here was delighted.”
Inverness are chasing a place in European competition for their fist time in their history on three counts as they will qualify should they win the League or FA Cup or finish second in the SPL.
Meekings, who has started 15 of Caley Thistle’s 21 league games, and came on as a substitute for three more, is hopeful the team’s season can continue to flourish.
“Obviously the way the season has gone so far we don’t want anything to change. Everything is running smoothly”, he said.
“If you look at the history of the club the best position it has achieved is seventh.
“We are hoping to better than that this year, but it’s up to us.
“It’s been a great season thus far.”
Meekings was left ‘very pleased’ when Butcher decided last week to reject the chance to manage Barnsley in the English Championship, as it was he who gave him the chance to get his career going at Inverness after he departed Ipswich.
The defender, who is the youngest player in the Caley Thistle side, revealed he is also happy where he is, having settled well in north east Scotland.
He said: “For me, I’m happy where I am. It would be nice to move into English football at some stage, but I’m really happy where I am at the moment.
“As long as I’m playing my football, that’s the main thing for me now at this age.”
Meekings also defended the SPL from some of its detractors, saying: “I think it’s just as quick, and has as much quality in it as any of the English leagues, apart from the Premier League because that stands out.”
Meekings has missed Caley Thistle’s last two matches with a groin strain, but with the injury having been rested over the two week winter break he should be fit and available for selection when they return to league action against Aberdeen on Saturday.
Of the remainder of the season, Meekings said: “We would like to get to the final of the League Cup and hopefully win it, and in the other one (The FA Cup) ensure we just try and get as far as we can and in the league just go as high as we can.”