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Promotion would boost Caley Thistle’s chances of landing Reece McAlear on permanent deal

Reece McAlear, the two-goal star for ICT on Friday, is a free agent this summer.
Reece McAlear, the two-goal star for ICT on Friday, is a free agent this summer.

Reece McAlear was freed by Norwich City – then delivered a two-goal reminder of his class in Caley Thistle colours a few hours later.

The relegated English Premier League club confirmed on Friday afternoon that the 20-year-old ex-Motherwell player would not be kept on beyond the summer when his contract expires.

The midfielder, tipped this season by Inverness head coach Billy Dodds for a Scotland under-21 call-up, has dazzled on loan in the Highlands with some wonderful goals.

A long-range, open-play rocket was followed by a searing 25-yard free-kick as neither effort could be kept out by St Johnstone keeper Zander Clark as Caley Thistle hit back from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 in the Premiership play-off final first leg on Friday.

McAlear scooped a hat-trick of club awards this season – including the best goal for his crashing finish against Dunfermline Athletic.

He was linked to St Johnstone, St Mirren and newly-promoted Premiership club Kilmarnock earlier this year.

However, if Inverness can win their place in the top-flight on Monday, perhaps they too could join the chase to land the starlet. It’s understood there is a willingness to try and sign him.

McAlear’s goals are ‘ridiculous’ – boss

McAlear has racked up 42 appearances this season, with his double on Friday taking him to six goals for the season, with most of them being eye-catchers.

Boss Dodds was full of praise for his two-goal hero, who again proved he’s got talent to display on the big occasions.

Reece MacAlear rifles the ball home against St Johnstone to spark a Caley Jags’ revival.

He said: “I told Reece before the game he hadn’t scored in a while. But he is a top lad. He gave the ball away a few times but my word, he is special when it comes to striking the ball.

“Reece has proved it time and again this season. When you put it together it is nothing short of ridiculous.”

Holiday looms as interest grows

McAlear, meanwhile, has put all thoughts of his future on ice until after Monday’s second leg of the final at St Johnstone.

He said: “It could be my last game, I don’t know, I will decide after that. I just need to do my best to try and take Inverness back to the Premiership.  We’ll see what happens. I will go on holiday first.”

‘We have the belief we can win it’

And the in-form creator explained the spirit and unity within the squad gives them more than a fighting chance of seeing off the Saints to win promotion, which would be a first for a club finishing third in the Championship.

He said: “We were getting tired on Friday, but there is a togetherness and push us on together. We have played six games in three weeks.

“But we were 2-0 down and we came back to 2-2 and it’s all to play for in the second leg. We have a belief to win the game.

“Togetherness, belief and spirit is all there. There is no point in playing if you don’t believe in each other.

“There were a couple of chances for us in the second half and we were getting closer and closer, people were getting off their seats shouting and cheering. It pushes you more, first goal and then the free-kick went in.”

Goal was a big one due to importance

McAlear admits his leveller against the Perth Saints ranks high in this list of set-piece goals, given what was at stake.

He added: “I’ve scored a few free-kicks in my time, but with the magnitude of the game and the second goal to equalise, it is up there.”

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