Ipswich Town and England legend Terry Butcher believes the sky is the limit for what former Haverhill schoolboy Josh Meekings can achieve.
The former national team captain was the 22-year-old Samuel Ward Academy graduate’s manager who launched his professional career in the Scottish Premier League with Caledonian Thistle two-and-a-half years ago.
And speaking to the Echo at a recent Ipswich Town Supporters’ Club event, after moving back to Suffolk having been relieved of his position as Hibernian manager in June, he said Meekings is already good enough for Celtic or the England’s second tier, and believes he could play in the Barclays Premier League one day.
“He trained with us as a young boy and he is now a man,” he said. “He has improved enormously. He always had the raw ingredients, coming from Ipswich.
“Russell Osman (then Ipswich Town Academy manager) recommended him to me and ever since he came to Inverness he has been a revelation really.”
Asked if the Caley regular had the talents to play for runaway Scottish leaders Celtic, Butcher said: “Yes, he could do.
“He could also easily play in the championship, and who knows, if he is improves as the way he is improving he could go on and play in the Premier League.”
He added: “He is quick, he is sharp, he wants to learn, good passer of the ball, aggressive and he has played right-back but his main role is as a centre-half.
“He could go right to the top.”
Despite a lack of academy players graduating into SkyBet Championship Ipswich’s first-team in recent years, Butcher feels their decision to let him go should not necessarily be seen as a mistake.
“No, at the time they made a decision and I have made decisions like that before as well,” said Sir Bobby Robson’s captain of club and country during the 1980s.
“Sometimes you have a choice and if you feel it is not right, you make that call.
“Whereas it was unfortunate for Josh, it was fortunate for us.”
While he also told highly sought-after Tyrone Mings, who turned up to listen to Butcher at Ipswich’s Dove Street Inn, that he should stay put, he also offered the same advice for Cavendish-raised Meekings.
“He has done very well up there, Butcher said.
“He has signed another year’s contract and is enjoying it.
“And he may want to come back to England one day, but I would say if you are enjoying your football, stay with it.
“It can easily go sour, as I have found out and others have found out.”