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Caley Thistle bide their time as Scottish rivals show interest in on-loan star Reece McAlear

Caley Thistle's on-loan Norwich City midfielder Reece McAlear.
Caley Thistle's on-loan Norwich City midfielder Reece McAlear.

Caley Thistle head coach Billy Dodds isn’t surprised there is Premiership interest in on-loan Norwich City starlet Reece McAlear.

And he didn’t rule out the Inverness club joining the chase to sign the midfielder in the summer when his contract runs out at the English Premiership side.

For now, Dodds respects the fact the 20-year-old, who has been impressive in the Highlands this season, isn’t their player.

However, having banged the drum for his call-up to the Scotland under-21s, Dodds heard from his squad McAlear, with four goals to his name in the Scottish Championship, is reportedly a target for a trio of clubs.

Reece McAlear, right, celebrates scoring against Arbroath.

Press reports this week suggest top-flight sides St Mirren and St Johnstone are tracking him, with Championship title favourites and leaders Kilmarnock also in the hunt, especially if they go up.

Dodds said: “The boys let me know in training (about the speculation) and were giving Reece a bit of stick.

“It doesn’t surprise me, because he is a good player and he has been a revelation since he came into the team.

“That’s why I said I can’t believe he is not in the Scotland under-21 squad. I stand by it.

“This is a boy who has been playing first-team football and really grasped the opportunity. He should walk into that under-21s team.

“He’s been scoring goals and putting in consistent performances. I have been blown away by him – he is a really good player. Hopefully he will continue until the end of the season and perhaps even beyond.”

When asked whether ICT have opened talks with the former Motherwell starlet, Dodds said: “We have to realise he is a Norwich player and we will deal with that when the time comes.”

Ayr United next up for Caley Thistle

After three successive victories, which followed an 11-game winless run, third-placed Inverness are away to eighth-placed Ayr United on Saturday.

The Highlanders were due to play Queen of the South last weekend, but the Doonhamers were in SPFL Trust Trophy final action where they lost 3-1 to Raith Rovers.

Since the Caley Jags beat Dunfermline 2-0 almost two weeks ago, front-runners Kilmarnock and Arbroath and fellow promotion-chasers Partick Thistle and Raith have all dropped points.

It means ICT are seven points behind second-placed Arbroath, but with one match in hand, while they lead fourth-placed Partick by three points, although the Jags play Queen of the South on Friday. Caley Thistle have played two games fewer than Partick by Saturday morning.

Dunfermline’s 2-0 midweek win over Raith ensured Arbroath, at worst this season, will finish in a play-off position.

Players dug deep to turn form around

Dodds noted their rivals’ results and praised his players for digging deep to turn the form book in their favour.

He added: “The results were kind for us and we have had three great results considering the poor run that we were on.

“Since going into the Arbroath game last month, the boys have been brilliant in terms of their attitude and determination.

“The hardest thing to do is turn things around and everyone of them have mucked in to give us the results we have deserved. We still have a bit to go, but we will keep the run going.”

Welcome break before five fixtures

With away games to Ayr, Queen of the South and Morton and home fixtures against Killie and Hamilton this month, Dodds felt having a weekend off was welcome.

He said: “It was good to get the rest to go into these games. We should have been playing Queen of the South, but we are going there on a midweek.

“We’ve got hard fixtures coming up in a short space of time.

“But we showed we can handle it, and I am hoping to do so again and give it a hard push to see where we end up, and I am looking forward to it and so are the rest of my staff and players.”

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