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While many of his Caley Thistle team mates were heading off for sunnier destinations to relax from the rigours of another successful season, Billy Mckay was still hard at work and reckons he and the club will benefit from his summer experience.

The twenty five year old did get some time with his family, spending a few nights in Paris, but before that Mckay was busy on international duty, rubbing shoulders with some of the players who would go on to light up the World Cup in Brazil.

mckay fleetwood 3

Mckay added to his five Northern Ireland caps when he was called up by Michael O'Neil to play Uruguay and Chile.

Despite playing in every single match last season, he was delighted to sample the South American scene....

"It was touch and go if I was making the squad to be honest after I picked up a knock in the last game of the season against St Johnstone. However I managed to shake it off and was happy to get my chance for the national team.”

“It's a once in a lifetime opportunity to play over there and I knew I couldn't pass it up. We played in front of over 50,000 against Uruguay in Montevideo and their stadium (Estadio Centenario) was where the first ever World Cup final was held. So be playing in a stadium with so much history was amazing.”

Mckay and his fellow Northern Irish team-mates came up against the likes of new Arsenal man Alexis Sanchez, Manchester United target Arturo Vidal and PSG front man Edinson Cavani in the two matches. There was no threat of the Caley Jag's striker receiving a nibble from Luis Suarez though as the Barcelona new boy was still trying to get to full fitness before the World Cup.

"It’s great to test yourself up against these players, some of the best players in the world, and I feel it will improve my game and chances of getting more international call ups from having played against them. I got 80 minutes against Uruguay and an hour against Chile so I'm happy to have got the game time"

Mckay was allowed an extra week off before reporting back for pre-season training and got back in the swing of things by scoring the fifth in Caley Thistle's 5-0 win over Highland League side Forres Mechanics.
Games against Elgin, Brora and Raith were to follow and whilst the team travels to Princess Royal Park on Wednesday, matches against English opposition are to follow. Championship club Birmingham are the final test for John Hughes' men before the season opener at Hamilton and League One new boys Fleetwood Town are due in the Highlands this weekend.

And the step up in opposition is one that Mckay is relishing....

"The games against the Highland League clubs and Elgin have been good so far and they are good to get in at this stage of the season but the English teams should be good for us. Fleetwood did well last season and had one of our former players, Charlie Taylor, there on loan. The match will be perfect for our preparations as it's not long to go until the start of the season and Fleetwood will be similarly not too far from the start of theirs."

"I'm looking forward to getting going again this season and hoping I can get off to the same start as last season. I scored eight goals in the first eight games of the season so hopefully I can get off to the same start as that.”

Billy Mckay was speaking to ICTFC.com to promote ticket sales for Sunday's match Fleetwood Town. Adults £10, Concessions £5 and U16's FREE

There’s fun for all the family before the match with a BBQ and funfair from 12:45pm. Fans will also have the chance to meet the whole 1st team squad after the match. Tickets can be purchased in advance from the ticket office, online from ictfc.com or on the day.

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