On the cusp: Meekings is close to top flight football return after lengthy injury
Former Samuel Ward Academy pupil Josh Meekings is set to make his return to the top level of Scottish football after more than two years of injury troubles.
The 25-year-old defender from Cavendish has had his share of injuries, struggling with an ongoing knee issue sustained in the opening game of the 2015/16 Scottish Premiership.
Concern over his knee, as well as a host of other niggles, prevented him claiming a regular starting spot at Inverness Caledonian — despite a promising breakthrough season that saw him help the team secure the Scottish Cup in 2015.
Meekings made the move to Dundee FC, nicknamed the Dark Blues, over the summer after spending time training and working towards his recovery at Dens Park with their resident physio.
And, following a strong recovery, manager Neil McCann has hinted at his debut being just over the horizon, saying the centre-back ‘is looking brilliant’.
It is, however, unlikely to happen this weekend as the side gear up to face the giant of the Scottish game in Celtic, at Celtic Park — although McCann did not rule it out as a possibility.
After Meekings did well in an Under-20s game last Thursday — playing about 75 minutes — he is expected to join the first team after the international break.
McCann signed him in mid-August but has had to wait to get him anywhere near a maiden appearance.
He has featured in practice matches and in a development side match against Ross County at Dens Park last week.
McCann said: “Meekings is looking brilliant, I have to say. He’s played a couple of practice matches and we’ll stretch him. I’m delighted. We wanted to get him fit, give him the facilities to get his injury cleared up.
“I know a number of people would have been loving someone like Meekings in the side.
“He wasn’t ready to be involved in the game against Hearts but played in the development game which sees him pretty much ready after the international break.”
His return, however, will give McCann some tough decisions to make as defensive numbers are not an issue at Dens, with seven first-team centre-backs on the books.
And Meekings will have his work cut out to dislodge youngsters Kerr Waddell and Jack Hendry, while club captain Darren O’Dea’s experience is vital in a young back-line.
McCann added: “It’s a fantastic decision to have to make — that’s what we’ve been after.
“Josh has been looking good in training but you can’t expect him to go straight in after such a long time out. After the international break, all going well, he will be ready to start pushing for inclusion.”
Meekings, who was born in Bury St Edmunds, suffered heartbreak at 18 when he was released from Ipswich Town after being at the club since the age of eight.
The six foot defender, who can place at centre-half or right-back, went on trial with Stevenage, but was then told the club could not afford him.
Ipswich legend Terry Butcher then swooped to offer him a trial up in Scotland at Inverness and Meekings has yet to look back.