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John Hughes delighted as Caley Thistle duo sign new deals

Ross Draper
Ross Draper

Ross Draper and Ryan Esson last night became the latest pillars of Caley Thistle’s Scottish Cup-winning team to sign new contracts.

Midfielder Draper extends his deal through to summer 2019, while veteran goalkeeper and player-coach Esson has committed until summer 2018. Both would have been out of contract this May.

The double boost came hot on the heels of stalwart defender Gary Warren committing to the club last week.

The latest pair to sign had endured several months of uncertainty as talks continued behind the scenes but manager John Hughes was thrilled to complete the agreements – and is predicting further good news in the next few days.

Hughes said: “Last year when captain Richie Foran fell injured Ross Draper really took up the mantle.

“I still think he can become a better player and he’s got one or two bad habits in his game but he’s great to have in the dressing-room. He’s got leadership qualities and we’re delighted to get him tied up.

“Ryan Esson is also done. Although he finds himself as goalkeeping coach and the number two to Owain Fon Williams, he’s everything that you want.

Ryan Esson
Ryan Esson

“He’s never let us down and always keeps himself fit. It helps us with the budget, too, because he’s doubling up with the coaching and being the number two goalkeeping coach.”

Esson, 35, will be eligible for a testimonial before the close of his new deal, having first signed in 2008, making more than 150 appearances.

The only other Inverness players currently under contract for next season are Josh Meekings, Greg Tansey and Richie Foran but Hughes expects positive developments on that front.

He said: “Over the next few days, there’s another couple close.”

Hughes has prioritised attacking options in his signing targets for January and has drafted in two new trialists this week.

Forward Victor Zapata-Caicedo, most recently with Czech Republic side Banik Ostrava and a former Tottenham, Sunderland and Blackburn Rovers youth, is being put through his paces along with Cambridge United attacking midfielder Liam Hughes.

Zapata-Caicedo is only 21 but Hughes believes he has the potential to boost his striking options. Hughes, 23 – no relation to the manager – is something of a giant at 6ft 4in but more comfortable playing off a main frontman.

Manager Hughes said: “Zapata and Hughes have done well. They’ve really grown into it during the week and we need to now assess if they’ll enhance the squad.”

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