Today brought with it the news that Inverness CT and defender Josh Meekings have postponed contract negotiations until the New Year.
The centre-back’s current deal expires at the end of this season and Inverness are understandably keen to get him tied up to a new deal. Meekings, on the other hand, wants to keep his options open. He’s been a rock at the heart of the Inverness defence, alongside the equally excellent Gary Warren, for the past five years and may feel a change of scenery, and increased pay packet, is in order.
While it would be a real shame to see a player who’s become synonymous with Caley Thistle and their unprecedented success over the past few years leave the club, there aren’t many fans who would begrudge him a move should he desire.
Therefore, with that in mind, we look at the most plausible destinations for the English defender.
The signing of Miles Storey and January attempt to capture Greg Tansey would indicate Derek McInnes and his staff are admirers of the Inverness Caley Thistle first team.
On the surface, the Dons appear to be set at centre-back, with Callum Morris and Anthony O’Connor joining the corps this past summer. However, Morris is injury-prone, and last season’s duo of Ash Taylor and Mark Reynolds have still to regain their 2014/15 form. Reynolds really struggled against Morton on Saturday, and Aberdeen may soon run out of patience with the experienced defender.
Taylor is a terrific player on his day, though he’s always likely to make a mistake, and is out of contract at the end of the campaign. Bringing in someone young and steady to play alongside the terrific Anthony O’Connor, who is the same age as Meekings at 24, would give Aberdeen a solid foundation for years to come.
Again, on the surface, you must ask why Hearts would bother with a centre back when they’ve got one, Krystian Nowak, who can’t get a look-in. The summer signing has been restricted to a place on the bench alongside former club captain Alim Ozturk because the combination of Igor Rossi and John Souttar has been so successful.
The reason why Hearts may be shopping for another defender is that Rossi and Ozturk are out of contract at the end of this season, while Souttar is courting a lot of attention from clubs down south. Hearts could quickly go from an embarrassment of riches to a bare cupboard. It would only make sense to have a contingency plan in place.
Inverness CT fans would not be impressed if the player went to Dundee United and probably see such a move as beneath him, especially if United fail to win promotion back to the top flight at the first time of asking. However, everyone assumed Ziggy Gordon would earn a move to the likes of Aberdeen or Hearts or a Championship club with England, and in the end he signed a one-year deal with Partick Thistle. The same thing could happen to Meekings.
United should be able to offer an increased weekly wage, regardless of what league they’re in, and there’s no doubt the Terrors could use an upgrade at centre-half.
Meekings is from the south of England (Suffolk, to be exact) and he routinely returns home during international breaks in order to see his family. He’ll be looking to move closer to home if he allows his current contract to expire. Caley Thistle’s low profile prevents them from recouping big transfer fees for their assets, but this also acts as a positive. The lack of interest from other clubs enables them to persuade their top talents to stick around longer, which they’ve previously done with Meekings and could go again. If he does go, he’ll probably have to drop down to League One. Although, with the amount of money involved, that is his most likely destination. Unless...
Speaking of money, it talks. And if it comes in a briefcase from Ibrox and says “hi Josh, sign for us please” then it’s more than likely that’s where our hero will end up. He was loosely linked with a move to Rangers at the tail end of the summer transfer window. And while he’s not exactly got the type of pedigree Rangers fans would be looking for in order to challenge Celtic, he’s still represents an improvement, in this writer’s opinion. He’s a good fit into Mark Warburton’s system too: quick and good with the ball at his feet.