Meekings happy to commit to Inverness Caledonian Thistle
The lure of regular first team football proved enough to convince Josh Meekings to sign a new contract extension at Inverness Caledonian Thistle.
The 22-year-old former student at Samuel Ward Academy in Haverhill put pen to paper last week on the new deal that will keep him at the Scottish Premiership club until the summer of 2017.
An ever-present this season, the centre-half has again been pivotal to the Highland side’s impressive defensive record, which in keeping with their league standing is the third best in the division - behind only leaders Celtic and second-placed Aberdeen.
Thistle are also into the last eight of the Scottish FA Cup, with a home tie to come against Championship outfit Raith Rovers on March 7.
All in all Meekings, whose family still live in his home village of Cavendish, was happy to remain at Inverness, whom he joined in July 2011 following his release from Ipswich Town.
He said: “The main priority for me was to be playing and make sure I was still getting a game. That was the main thing.
“As long as I’m playing and getting game time I can concentrate on my game and on what I am doing.
“I am quite happy to stay here for another couple of years and see where it goes after that.”
Thistle recently lost their talismanic top-scorer Billy McKay to Wigan Athletic, a departure that, said Meekings, has made the team concentrate on its defensive work even more.
Having started 2015 with six wins and one draw from their seven league matches, plus a 2-1 victory at Partick Thistle in the Scottish Cup, the renewed focus is clearly working.
Meekings added: “For us defensively we know we have got to keep it tighter at the back. Even more so now we have got to keep the goals down without having a goalscorer like Billy.”
The prospect of maintaining their place in the top three - or winning the cup - and thereby qualifying for a first ever foray into Europe is one that appeals to Meekings.
“Personally I would love to be involved in something like that, “ he said.
“It would be a great experience but there’s still a long way to go.
“We’ve had a really good start to the year. There’s quite a few games to be played yet and we have seen in previous seasons how it can all change.
“For now we’ve just got to keep taking it game by game and keep grounded and keep working hard.”
One area in which Meekings has made a much bigger impact this season is in the opposition penalty box.
Having not scored in a competitive match for three seasons, this term he has notched three - thanks largely to a change of tactic from his manager John Hughes.
Meekings said: “In previous seasons I didn’t really go up for corners, I got kept back because of my pace.
“This season, under the new manager I’ve been given the opportunity to go into the box and get a few goals and I’ve done so.
“I would like a few more by the end of the season but I’m just happy that I’ve got some goals this season.”