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Aug 8, 2014

Shinnie loves being Caley captain

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Graeme Shinnie has vowed to continue making the most of his spell as Inverness captain as he begins the season deputising for the injured Richie Foran.

With Foran still recovering from the knee problem that ended his season prematurely, left-back Shinnie will lead the team out at Hamilton in Saturday's Scottish Premiership opener.

At the age of 23, Shinnie is one of the younger captains in Scottish football, but he is approaching his 150th appearance for Caley Thistle and views the role as a chance to develop his career.

"I love it," he said. "To captain a club is always a huge honour. As much as I want Richie to come back, it's nice to have that responsibility on and off the pitch. To lead the boys in any game is a huge honour.

"The time I have got it, I will enjoy it, and when Richie comes back, I will give it back.

"It's all experience for me as well. I'm still young and learning and Richie gives me pointers.

"When I first came here it was Grant Munro. I was a young boy and he was always there to help out.

"If ever I had any problems he was the first person I went to, and it's been the same with Richie."

Hamilton are making their return to the top flight after a three-year absence and Shinnie, whose breakthrough season came just after Inverness were promoted, knows they will be keen to get off to a flier.

"It's just a case of going out and doing your best - they will be on a high because they have just been promoted," he said.

"I remember it was a case of enjoying pre season and looking forward to first game of the season. It's the top league and it's something to look forward to.

"But we'll look to do our thing, put our stamp on the game and try to come back up the road with three points."

Like Foran, Danny Devine is also nursing a knee injury - although he may return to training next week.

Alex Neil insists neither he nor his Hamilton team have any fear on their return to the Scottish Premiership this season.

In his first season as Accies player/manager the 33-year-old took the New Douglas Park side into the top flight via a win over Hibernian in the play-off.

Ahead of the visit of Inverness, Neil relished the prospect of taking on some of the best players and managers in the country.

"It is the same as the team, there is absolutely no fear whatsoever," he said.

"I have been managing for a year, so to get the team into the top flight in my first season and for the boys to be playing at this level, given how young some of them are - there is no fear from us.

"We will give it our best shot, enjoy it and hopefully it will be good enough.

"We did well last season and hopefully we can take that momentum into this season.

"First and foremost, we have to try to stay in the league but that won't be our only goal.

"We set our sights last season in finishing in the top four and we got promoted so we are expecting more than just staying in the league."

Neil accepts that many will tip Accies to return immediately to the Championship but the former Barnsley and Mansfield player insists that will be used as motivation.

"What other people think about us doesn't concern me too much but it is motivation for the players," he said.

"If and when I am playing I will be thinking to myself, 'I wouldn't like to think I am one of the weakest players or teams in the league'.

"So we have a point to prove, to show that's not the case and hopefully it will drive us on.

"We are going to be the smallest club in the Premiership. There is no questions about that.

"However, as we showed last season, that doesn't mean that we can't have success.

"We want to get a great start. We are at home which is perfect for us.

"So hopefully we can go on and lay building blocks for the rest of the season."

Neil has no fresh injuries. Jon Routledge is recovering from a knee operation but is not yet ready to be considered. Fellow midfielder Tony Andreu has recovered from a knee injury but it is also too

early for him.

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