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Central defensive aces Danny Devine and Kirk Broadfoot key for Caley Thistle, says Josh Meekings

Josh Meekings, in his playing days for Caley Thistle.
Josh Meekings, in his playing days for Caley Thistle.

Former Caley Thistle star Josh Meekings reckons defensive duo Danny Devine and Kirk Broadfoot can help drive the club towards Championship success.

The 2015 Scottish Cup winner, who is now a player and coach at Highland League champions Brora Rangers, has experience of playing beside Devine, while ex-Rangers and Kilmarnock stopper Broadfoot stood out whenever Meekings faced him.

The central defensive pairing have impressed head coach Billy Dodds this season and Meekings believes those two positions are central to how well the side performs overall.

He said: “If you can build a strong central defensive partnership, it can be the base for the team.

Inverness defender Danny Devine.

“If you’re strong and steady at the back, the rest of the team then becomes more organised and controlled in games.

“I always enjoyed playing alongside Danny, although I was mainly alongside Gary Warren.

“Danny’s a really good communicator. If you can build a positive relationship with someone like that, it’s great for the team.

“They just need to try and stay injury-free.

“If you can keep it tight at the back and you’re giving nothing away then you’ve only to nick a goal. Terry Butcher used to say ‘clean sheet, no defeat’ and that is something that stuck with me throughout my career.

“Keeping it tight at the back always gives you a chance and you might only need a goal to win it. They’re clearly doing that this season.

“I’m not surprised to see Danny doing so well. I played against Kirk and always knew he was a really good player.”

Kirk Broadfoot celebrates his goal against Partick Thistle this season.

Caley Thistle can last the distance

Arbroath have been the main story of the Championship, with Dick Campbell’s part-timers setting the pace at the top.

Meekings remains confident his old club will last the distance, with players who have top-flight experience capable of making the difference at the business end of the campaign.

He said: “I have been extremely impressed with Arbroath. They have, in some ways, gone under the radar.

“We’re now approaching the main part of the season where the fixtures now set you up for the latter stages.

“For Arbroath to have only lost three times is a very good return. Credit to them, as a part-time team, for doing what they’re doing and it’s brilliant to see.

“However, Caley Thistle have shown their qualities throughout the season and have come through a little blip to stay in touch. If they can focus on themselves, keep doing what they’ve been doing, they’ll be there or thereabouts.

Billy Mckay has scored 11 times this season for Caley Thistle
Caley Thistle striker Billy Mckay.

“They have Premiership-class players.

“I have played alongside Aaron Doran, Billy Mckay and Shane Sutherland and they will be vital in the latter stages of the season. When you need a little bit of magic, these players will hopefully be the ones to provide it.

“If Billy Dodds can add one or two players to boost the squad that would be great. If something were to happen, such as injuries to one or two of your main players and you haven’t got ideal amounts of cover, you’re in a position you don’t want to be in, especially when you’ve been challenging all season.”

Coaching talent add value to ICT

Meekings, whose career started at Ipswich Town, believes assistant manager Scott Kellacher and ex-goalkeeper Ryan Esson can also fire the team up and keep them on the title trail, along with boss Dodds and coach Barry Wilson.

ICT assistant manager Scott Kellacher.

He added: “The club have a great coaching team there at the moment.

“I was coached by Scott Kellacher and Ryan Esson has stepped up to be part of it. They are great people to have in and around the dressing room.

“They’ve been there and done it before and they will encourage the players to keep pushing and not to fall away. Billy Dodds is doing a brilliant job and hopefully they can go on and challenge at the end of the season.”

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