THERE was incredulity in some quarters last summer as Terry Butcher handed Billy McKay a new two-year deal despite managing just three goals in his first season with Inverness.
Tuesday night’s double from McKay in the 2-1 derby win over Ross County, however, was only the latest vindication for the Inverness manager.
McKay has hit 13 goals this season – seven in his past five matches – and across all competitions the Corby-born former Northampton Town striker shares a lead in the SPL goal charts with Hibs’ Leigh Griffiths.
Butcher’s decision to award that contract has removed one of several minor headaches for the Englishman approaching January. Where fellow form players like Aaron Doran and Andrew Shinnie could talk to suitor clubs, McKay, 24, is tied up tight – a rare situation for a club well-used to losing it’s brightest lights in the transfer windows.
For team-mate Gary Warren, who won the early penalty against Ross County, McKay is currently among the hottest properties in the SPL.
The big defender, himself one of Butcher’s southern recruits having moved up last summer from the captaincy Newport County, said: “Billy has been outstanding for us and he got us through to the Scottish Cup fifth round with an exceptional goal. He is scoring goals for fun and would be a hot property for any club given the way he is performing right now. There could obviously be interest in him, but he is under contract and I hope he stays here.”
Warren needed little prompting to add his voice to those calling for Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill to cap his recent squad member.
“Billy has been on fire for the last 10 to 15 games really,” said Warren. “He should be in the running for a Northern Ireland cap now due to the way he is playing.”