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Young Highlander is as good as Gauld, says Shinnie

Ryan Christie has still to find himself referred to as 'Messi' to be linked with a multi-million pound move to the continent but there are those at Inverness Caledonian Thistle who believe that the teenager is every bit as good as Gauld.

The erstwhile Dundee United forward - also called Ryan and who joined Sporting Lisbon for £3m last month - was regarded as one of the best young talents to be produced in Scotland in years.

That mantle may yet be challenged by Christie of Inverness. The son of club great Charlie, the forward impressed his manager, John Hughes, and team-mates alike during a friendly with Birmingham City last week, producing a mature show of vision, clever movement and subtle skill. So much so that stand-in captain Graeme Shinnie felt comfortable yesterday extolling the 19-year-old as one of the very best young talents in Scottish football.

"Young Ryan is a wonderful prospect. Is he up there with the likes of Ryan Gauld? Definitely," said the full-back, himself still just 23. "Even last season, watching him make his way into the team, he showed a great touch and football brain. It is really exciting.

"I'm sure this season, if he gets his chance, he'll go and grab it. He'll get the plaudits, I'm certain. He has the ability to pick passes others don't see and always gets into the right spaces. He's positive and likes to drive at defences, set up chances, shoot and score. He'll be a big part of this team."

The Hamilton Academical players will settle for being an enduring feature of the SPFL Premiership. The Lanarkshire side host Inverness in their first match following the club's return to the top flight and are relishing the moment.

"It is the same as the team, there is absolutely no fear whatsoever," said Alex Neil, the Hamilton player-manager. "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."

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