Brad McKay has sights fixed on Ibrox and Parkhead next season

Brad McKay knows it could be Gayfield Park next season – or Govan and Gorgie.

Brad McKay is frustrated that neighbours Ross County have been promoted ahead of Inverness. Picture: SNS.
Brad McKay is frustrated that neighbours Ross County have been promoted ahead of Inverness. Picture: SNS.

The former Hearts defender has nothing but admiration for part-timers such as Arbroath and Alloa, but knows where he would rather be playing his football.

The 26-year-old from Edinburgh tasted top-flight football with Hearts, St Johnstone and Caley Thistle before relegation under Richie Foran took him down into the 
Championship.

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After a season of high endeavour, six matches now separate the Highlanders from a Premiership return.

McKay, who has played 45 games already this term, is re-energised by the possibility.

He said: “It’s mad – you are a couple of games away from playing in the Premiership.

“If you can look that far, you are within touching distance.

“You look at whoever it’s going to be coming down, Hamilton or St Mirren, and if you can take the teams above us, who we have beaten before, then that is who we will play. We’ve got to look at the positives and we know we can beat them – home and away. That’s the challenge and it’s exciting.

“You’ve got Arbroath coming up and Alloa are still in the league. No disrespect to these teams, they have done amazing. But we could be going to Arbroath and Alloa, or we could be going to Parkhead and Ibrox next season.

“That’s the difference. It’s huge financial gains for the club as well.”

McKay has been a consistently solid and accomplished performer for John Robertson’s side this season, whether at centre-half or right-back, but watching neighbours Ross County win back their Premiership place automatically has been a sore point.

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He said: “It’s frustrating for us in the dressing room, watching County go up and knowing we have stood toe to toe with them.

“There haven’t been any games where they have battered us and we’ve walked away thinking ‘that’s why they are top of the league’.

“We have always done well against the bigger teams in the league, but it’s the points here and there that end up getting you championships. We have the best away record in the league, but it was the home games we lost that mattered.

“But we have stood toe to toe with all the teams in the top four so I think we can go again.”

Caley Thistle finished last season with seven wins and a draw in April alone.

Repeating that blinding finish would be enough to take the club all the way to the top flight, but first they must get past Ayr United over two legs.

Mckay stressed: “We’ve a good record against Ayr – we should have beaten them at the start of the season.

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“We went down there and beat them last time. I came on and scored after two minutes.

“It’s just a one-off game. Anything can happen. We just want to give ourselves the best possible start to bring it back here and try to take care of it.

“The good thing is we have picked up a bit at home. It was good to get third place and a little bit of extra cash for the club.

“But I don’t think it would have been a problem to go to Ayr the second game.

“Our away form is impeccable – we have been excellent.”

Meanwhile, Ayr United manager Ian McCall wants his side to make the most of being at the play-offs at the right end of the table as 12 months ago everyone outside of Somerset Park had them down to be in the relegation play-offs at best.

“A year ago everyone tipped Alloa and us to be relegated,” he said. “However, they have survived and we have had an amazing season. We massively overachieved to finish in fourth place which is 
actually the lowest place we have been.”

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Although the Highlanders have home advantage for the second leg, McCall is not losing sleep over that. He added: “It will not be that big a bonus. It would probably have generated more finance for the club if we were at Somerset Park on Saturday, but on the pitch it should not make much of a difference. Inverness have won both their games at our place this season but that does not tell the full story. In the first game we had a ten-minute crazy spell in defence and we lost three goals, whereas in the second we were on top for long periods but lost 1-0.

“In fact it is probably better. If Inverness were at home the game would have been played on the Wednesday night. We would have travelled back afterwards, and Thursday would have been a write-off. With the game at ours on Tuesday we have an extra day of preparations.”