James Keatings is hoping to be Inverness Caley Thistle’s lucky charm in the Premiership play-offs – even though he won’t kick a ball.
The striker, released by Hamilton Accies, tied up a two-year deal with John Robertson’s team yesterday and will have to wait until next season for his first bow.
But the 27-year-old has a knack of turning out for promotion parties after a hat-trick of leaps from the Championship with Hamilton, Hearts and Hibs.
Keatings revealed the lasting bond he built with Robertson while winning the Championship at Tynecastle in season 2014-15 swayed him to drop a division, at least temporarily.
After a couple of injury-hit seasons with Dundee United and Accies, the former Scotland youth and under-19 international was quickly sold on the move north.
“Leaving Hamilton a couple of weeks ago was what I wanted to happen,” he said. “I’d spoken to John Robertson and it had been going on for a wee while. I had other teams contacting me, but I felt this was the right place for me – and he was the right person.
“I’ve known the gaffer for a good few years now and he was brilliant with me when I was at Hearts. He used to give me a lot of encouragement.
“Being a striker who achieved so much himself, he knew what I needed to bring to my game and he was always in my ear coming off games. We’ve always spoken and texted ever since.
“The last two years have been stop-start in my career with niggles and I felt this was the right place to come and feel good around about John.
“The team plays the right kind of football and I could see myself playing a part here and kicking on.”
Glaswegian Keatings pledged his future to Caley Thistle regardless of which league they would be playing in next season, but he is convinced Robertson’s men, quarter-final victors against Ayr United, can complete the job against Dundee United and the second bottom Premiership side.
Keatings stressed: “I’ve been fortunate enough to win promotion from this league three times before.
“They are massive games coming up and hopefully they can get through them and get into the Premiership. It’s a great time for the club – I can feel a buzz around it – and I’m looking forward to being part of that in the future.”
Manager Robertson, pictured, was delighted to bring in Keatings for next season. He said: “James is vastlyexperienced – a quality player – and I’ve been trying to get him for a while. He is the type who scores and makes goals and he’ll be a huge asset.”
Robertson has been hit by one – and potentially two – injury blows ahead of tonight’s home first leg against a well-rested United.
Creative frontman Tom Walsh hobbled off against Ayr after an awkward landing caused a hip, hamstring and knee problem.
Defender Brad Mckay also rolled his ankle but will be assessed before kick-off.