Inverness CT V St Mirren at Tulloch Caledonian Stadium : Match Preview

24 December 2012 06:31
Inverness CT V St Mirren - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

Butcher enjoys `fantastic Christmas present'

Inverness received another boost in their incredible season when defenders Graeme Shinnie and Josh Meekings both signed two-year contract extensions.

Caley Thistle confirmed the players had both tied themselves to the Clydesdale Bank Premier League club until May 2015.

Manager Terry Butcher, whose second-placed side host St Mirren on Boxing Day, told the club website: "I am extremely delighted that we have extended Graeme's and Josh's deals, as they have performed brilliantly for the first team and thoroughly deserve their new contracts.

"This is a fantastic Christmas present for the club and supporters.

"I am optimistic that there will be other news of further extensions to other players in the near future."

Scotland Under-21 international Shinnie came through the youth ranks and has been an ever-present this season after his development was stalled by a lengthy absence following a serious illness.

Meekings, who is a year younger at 20, has made 44 appearances since signing from Ipswich 18 months ago.

Butcher is still trying to persuade Shinnie's older brother, Andrew, to sign a new contract.

Caley Thistle moved back into second on Saturday with a 4-1 victory over Dundee that saw them equal last season's SPL tally of 42 goals at the halfway mark of this campaign.

The win was watched by 3,003 fans and, although Butcher was pleased with the turnout in torrential conditions on the busiest shopping day of the year, he hopes more supporters come out against St Mirren.

"Our crowd will come because they see the football that we play," Butcher said.

"I want them to come and cheer us on all the way because who knows what can happen?

"St Mirren had a good win too and the last time we played them it was 2-2 and goals galore.

"But there seems to be goals galore every time we play."

Danny Lennon will allow his St Mirren players to spend Christmas Day with their families before making the long trip.

The Buddies boss convened a squad meeting to decide a plan of action when the Clydesdale Bank Premier League fixture was looming.

"We had a collective decision about the game," said Lennon.

"Everyone is wanting to spend quality time with their loved ones and to leave young families early in the evening is not enjoyable.

"We spoke about it collectively and we will come in Tuesday morning for a good hour then they can get away sharp to spend quality time with their families because for me, that is what Christmas is all about.

"We went up to Ross County not too long ago and it was fine, so we don't envisage a problem with that."

Lennon's side travel with confidence after their 2-1 home win over Motherwell on Friday night but the former Cowdenbeath manager has some selection problems against the SPL's top scorers, who moved into second place behind Celtic with a 4-1 win over Dundee on Saturday.

Skipper Jim Goodwin and defender Marc McAusland, who both played in central defence against the Steelmen and against Celtic the previous game, are suspended and there are doubts over Kenny McLean (knock), Gary Teale (abductor) and Paul Dummett (muscle complaint).

Lennon said: "We have one or two wee worries. Kenny McLean won't train today, he picked a knock up the other night and is being assessed.

"Gary Teale came off with a tightening of the abductors, although he was feeling better, and there is Paul Dummett and of course we are missing Jim Goodwin and Marc McAusland which is a big blow for us, especially the way we have defended the last two games.

"Jim has been very disciplined, very strong and been able to build from the back.

"I thought he handled Michael Higdon very well on Friday and Marc has had a tremendous season, continuing on from where he left off last season."

Playmaker Paul McGowan could get some game time after recovering from his shoulder injury.

Lennon said: "He is champing at the bit for playing time. We will assess him."

Source: PA