Butcher could help fulfil Josh’s dream

Samuel Ward Arts and Technology College, Haverhill. 'Samuel Ward pupil, Josh Meekings, has 2 year apprenticeship with ITFT.''Pictured; Josh Meekings, 16.
Samuel Ward Arts and Technology College, Haverhill. 'Samuel Ward pupil, Josh Meekings, has 2 year apprenticeship with ITFT.''Pictured; Josh Meekings, 16.

CAVENDISH’S Josh Meekings has said he can’t wait to start developing his game under Ipswich legend Terry Butcher at Inverness Caledonian Thistle.

The 18-year-old has agreed terms on a two-year deal to launch his professional career in the Scottish Premier League after wowing Butcher and his staff on trial during gruelling double pre-season sessions.

It means former Ipswich Town Under-18s captain Meekings could be running out at a packed Ibrox and Celtic Park in the forthcoming season as he makes a claim for a starting place when Caley Thistle kick-off their SPL campaign at Mortherwell on July 23.

Speaking to the Suffolk Free Press yesterday, the ex-Haverhill schoolboy said: “I am really looking forward to it and I can definitely push on from here.

“I definitely want to try and get myself in the first-team as soon as possible but I know it will be hard work.”

Meekings, who was born in Bury St Edmunds and is a keen cricketer, suffered heartbreak just a few months ago when he was released from Ipswich Town by Paul Jewell after being at the club since the age of eight.

The six foot defender, who can place at centre-half or right-back, then went on trial with Stevenage, but although an acceptable contract seemed to have been accepted, he was then told the club could not afford him.

But former England captain and Scotland assistant manager Butcher, who thought he had missed out on Meekings, then swooped to offer him a trial up in Scotland.

“He watched me in a couple of games and training, which was really hard, and he just said he thinks I have been doing really well and he and his staff could not believe I was 18,” said Meekings.

When a two-year deal was put forward on Tuesday, there was never a doubt in his mind, with Butcher telling him he personally will do everything he can to help him adapt to life 500 miles from home - just like he had to after moving to Glasgow Rangers from Ipswich.

Meekings was announced as having agreed to sign for the Highlands club, who finished seventh last season, on Tuesday along with former Glasgow Rangers player and fellow trialist Andrew Shinnie.

Butcher, who was recommended Meekings by his former Ipswich team-mate Russell Osman, now the under-18s manager at Portman Road, told his club’s website: “Both have been training with us and have made an excellent impression in our pre-season friendlies.

“I have made offers and both have accepted and the paperwork should be completed in the next dew days.”

Meekings, who describes Caley Thistle as having the same family ethos surrounding them as Ipswich Town, added to play under Butcher is a dream come true: “My dad and granddad are always talking about Terry Butcher and Russell Osman and how good they were, so to have both of them show faith in me is such a good feeling.”