INVERNESS manager Terry Butcher has hailed Scottish Premiership player of the month Billy McKay as the “complete professional”.
The striker collected the award after hitting three goals in three league games in September and netting the winner in a League Cup tie at Dundee.
The Northern Ireland international has continued where he left off last season, when he struck 27 goals, by netting nine times in ten games so far this campaign.
Butcher said: “He is exceptional. He’s a complete professional, almost the perfect striker for us. He’s the principal point of our attack obviously and the first line of defence.
“He is just wonderful. You would never think he is top of the Premiership goalscoring charts, by some way as well. You would never think that by looking at him: he is the most laid-back member of the squad possibly.
“He just gets on with his job, no frills. He hardly ever misses training and doesn’t miss many games at all.
“He keeps being there all the time and he keeps being there in the box to convert the chances.
“We love him to bits here and we’re really pleased for him. And it’s fully deserved.”
McKay has the chance to add to his goal tally when Inverness host Partick Thistle today.
Both sides are looking to bounce back from defeats – Inverness lost 4-0 at St Johnstone before the Maryhill side fell to a 1-0 defeat by Hibernian.
But the First Division champions have made their mark in an impressive start to the season and Butcher, who had a short coaching stint at Firhill in 2007, is full of praise for Alan Archibald’s side.
“They have done very well,” Butcher said. “I was at Partick Thistle for a few weeks under Jimmy Bone and I certainly enjoyed my time there.
“It’s a lovely club. They are in the big time now and quite rightly so.
“But they are also gracing the Premiership with their style.
“They are passing the ball really well, they have good movement and they have got young, energetic players.
“Alan, as a player, was a good passer of the ball. He liked to get the ball down and pass it out and dribble with the ball sometimes as a centre-half. Not quite the best thing to do sometimes.
“But his philosophy is coming across well, his philosophy is to get the ball down and play it out from the back and his team are doing it really well.”
Partick manager Archibald thought that he was watching a different team when he witnessed today’s opponents Inverness come crashing down with that 4-0 drubbing by St Johnstone.
Butcher’s side travelled to Perth before the international break at the top of the Scottish Premiership but a calamitous afternoon ended with them dropping down to second place, three points behind Celtic.
Archibald was sitting in the McDiarmid Park stand and can still hardly believe what he watched unfold although he believes the Caley boss will have his side ready to bounce back for the visit of the Maryhill men.
“I went to the game and I was very surprised,” he said. “The games that I saw Inverness play before – it was like a different team to be honest. I think they had a couple of key players missing and that showed. But take nothing away from St Johnstone, they were very good on the day.
“I worked with Terry for a short time and I know what he is like. He will be working very hard on them going into this match – he is very thorough. We play a similar shape to Inverness so, hopefully, it turns out to be an entertaining game.” The top-flight new boys travel to the Highlands with ten points from nine games. With the first quarter of league games almost complete, Archibald believes a school report on his side would say “good but it could have been better”.
“It has been a good start but we could probably be six points better off,” he said. “Our school report would probably say that.
“I think we have dropped six points at home that we should have won, so our home form is one thing that I would have changed. But we don’t dwell on it too long, there are a lot of points to play for and plenty of time to get them.
“We didn’t set a target for the first quarter. This is the hardest spell coming up. We have Inverness and Celtic at home and then we start the next quarter with Aberdeen, so it is a hard run of games but we didn’t set any targets to put pressure on ourselves.”