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Key player extends contract for further year with Strathspey Thistle

By Gavin Musgrove

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Kieran Chalmers has extended his contract with the Grantown club. Photo: Stewart Grant (c)
Kieran Chalmers has extended his contract with the Grantown club. Photo: Stewart Grant (c)

The Jags have delivered two pieces of good news to fans this Christmas with the addition of a versatile player to the squad and a contract extension for a key midfielder.

The Grantown club has snapped up 19 year old Fraser Russell who was part of the Inverness Caley youth set-up in his junior playing days.

Strathspey Thistle boss Gordie Nicolson said like signings that have gone before him, he has the character they are looking for and will give his side options on the left flank.

He said: "Fraser is just a young lad. He is left footed and can play anywhere up that side of the pitch and provides us with some versatility. We have had him here on trial for a couple of weeks.

"He played some bounce games within the squad and did well.

"He was part of the Caley group originally with Roddy (Kennedy), Gabriel (Hastings) and Kieran (Chalmers).

"Fraser is a great kid and a good sort to have on board at the club."

Meanwhile central midfielder Chalmers has signed a one-year extension after joining the club last year.

He has only turned out twice for the club since being signed because of the Covid lockdown but Nicolson sees a big role for him with Thistle.

"He missed the Buckie game but he is a big part of our plans going forward. Kieran is a fantastic young footballer with good balance and great on both feet and creative.

"He has a cracking attitude and has a bright future. It is important that the players have the right character – we try and do our home work as best we can on this to make sure they will fit into the group well.

"We have a good set of lads here who are committed and keen. The players not getting paid at the moment that way things are yet they are giving 100 per cent at training.

"The easiest thing would be for players to take their foot off the gas in the current circumstances but these lads have not. I am sure it is happening at some clubs but here all the boys are training all of the time which is great."

Strathspey Thistle were unable to organise a bounce game and the squad has been given a break this past week as there was no Boxing Day fixture as it was the second round of the Scottish Cup.

The Jags were knocked out by Buckie Thistle in the preliminary round two in their only match to date in the Covid delayed season.

The Scottish Government announcement to put the whole of the country on Level Four footing from Boxing Day will not prevent Highland League fixtures from going ahead although it will mean no fans are allowed into the grounds.

But it has caused disruption to the Jags' training preparations.

Nicolson explained: "Fingers crossed we will be okay with this new lockdown but we have had to sort out an alternative training facility. The venue we use at Inverness Royal Academy is Highland Council run and it will be out of bounds for the extended period the schools are off.

"We will be returning to Muir of Ord to train but will be rolling with what happens on the coronavirus restrictions.

"It is a grass pitch with floodlights. It is perhaps not what we are used to in terms of the quality of the surface but it is great to have access to this.

"We have to make the best of what we have got as we prepare in the hope that the home game against Lossiemouth on January 2 goes ahead.

"The plan is to train twice next week."

Midfielder James McShane may miss out on the Highland League encounter after sustaining a bad looking knee injury early on in the Buckie Thistle game.

But there are hopes that it is not as serious as first feared and the club captain could be backer sooner than initially expected.

Nicolson said: "His knee is still swollen. He will be touch and go for the Lossie game but we need to wait and see. He is waiting for the swelling to go down and then can take it from there.

"There was a fear it could be a cruciate ligament injury but there is generally some sort of popping in the knee when it goes and James did not hear any of that so he thinks it is a twist."

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