STRIKE duo Gary Kerr and Ross Naismith have both signed contract extensions at Station Park this evening keeping them with Nairn County until the summer of 2019.
Kerr's one-year deal was due to expire in the summer but he has penned a two-year extension while Naismith has agreed a one-year extension to his existing contract in what is a huge boost to the club.
The news follows hot on the heels of Kenny McKenzie and Stephen Mackenzie agreeing contract extensions this morning while Callum Maclean, Jack Maclean and Jordan Macrae put pen to paper again last week.
Manager Ronnie Sharp said: "This is massive news for us. Both of these players have been superb this season and have contributed a lot of goals, which is great credit to them."
"Gary came in at the start of the season with a real point to prove with things not working out for him at a few Highland League clubs, including at Nairn before. You could see his hunger from the off and he has done superbly well. His goals return speaks for itself and it is great that we have been able to tie him down to a longer deal as I am sure he will have been making people at other clubs sit up and take notice of his ability."
"He is a real handful up front and brings that aggressive edge to our forward play that we need. He is not just all about power though as he is a skilful player with good technique as well, like he proved with his cracking goal up at Brora."
He added: "Ross has gone up front lately and played alongside Gary and that seems to be working well. Ross previously played as a midfielder and we had him out right as well but we thought that a player of his technical ability on the ball would work well up front beside Gary. We needed someone up there to help him out and Ross has proved that he has the ability to do it. He has all the skills you can think of in his locker and he is a real flair player but importantly, he has an end product as well and I think you are seeing that more and more this season."
"It shows that things are coming together for the club not just for the rest of this season but going forward into the next few seasons as well. The management committee are committed to what we are trying to achieve on the park and I would like to thank them for backing us and looking longer term to get these two players tied up for the next few years and the others who have signed up too."
Kerr returned to Station Park in the summer after a previous two-year spell and has hit the ground running with 11 goals in 19 appearances so far this season.
The 25-year-old only managed a handful of appearances in his previous stint with the club but looks like a striker reborn with the confidence instilled in him by Ronnie Sharp.
The popular centre forward said: "I am enjoying my time at the club and everything is going quite well. The support from the fans is class and the team has come together well over the last few weeks. There is a lot of togetherness and that is good to be a part of. If we can keep everyone together over the next few years, then we can definitely do something."
Kerr came in to the club on the brink of the season starting and has featured in every match apart from one where he served a suspension.
He added: "We have come on loads over the past few weeks especially. Since the start of the season, there has been a massive change in the team with everyone fighting for places and players competing to play. It has been good to be a part of and it has been good to be playing."
Kerr has spent time with Brora Rangers, Clachnacuddin and Strathspey Thistle earlier in his career and now appears to have found a home at this level at Station Park second time around.
"This has been the best run I have had at any club I have been at," he stated. "That helped convince me to re-sign too. I am getting a chance to prove that I should be starting every week after having a good start to the season and then scoring five goals in five games. That got me going and got my confidence up and I am definitely a confidence player as Ross says to me all the time."
Kerr targeted 10 goals for the season at the start of the campaign but reached that in just 14 games. He is now aiming higher both on a personal level and for the team overall.
He revealed: "I have said to the boys that we should be aiming for the top 10. We have slipped up against teams where we should have been taking points like the Strathspey game. We definitely should not have been getting beat off the likes of these teams and even on Saturday, I felt we dropped two points at Deveronvale. We were dominating the game at 1-1 and then lost a goal."
"I am now aiming for 20 goals and I have to be looking for that and I would like us to finish in the top 10 and to go on a good cup run. We have Deveronvale away again in the cup and I would say that they are definitely beatable, so hopefully we can go down there in February and get into the next round."
Kerr has been joined up front by Naismith in recent weeks having ploughed a lone furrow at the start of the campaign.
He added: "It was a lot harder having no one near me when we played with just the one up at the start of the season. It is good having Ross around about me just now. I take a bit of pressure off him as the big boys all come and take me, which gives him time and space to create and do what he does. He is on fire just now as well, which has been good."
Naismith is now in his sixth season with the club and recently made his 100th Nairn County appearance in the home match against Inverurie Locos.
The fans favourite has picked up the nickname "Ross Stay-smith" from the supporters for the loyalty he displayed in the summer while most of his ex-team mates headed for the exit.
He said: "I am loving football just now more than I have for a long while. It was a really easy decision to agree to stay for longer because it is not about the money at all for me - it is about playing as much as I can. We have a good team at the club now and if we can keep this side together for a while then we will be decent and we will easily push up the league and get challenging further up the table again."
The 23-year-old has already made more starts and appearances and scored more goals during this campaign than in any single season during his time with the club having netted eight times from 19 outings.
He stated: "The season has been brilliant for me. We are playing some quality football and we hardly ever lose heavily. It is just a lack of experience that we are not winning more games but we will at some point soon. I am really looking forward to the rest of the season and hopefully we can pick up a few more good results."
Naismith has predominantly been used as a midfielder in his time at the club but has found a new lease of life up front with his flourishing partnership alongside Kerr.
He said: "I am enjoying getting a run up front being the strike partner for Kerrso. I will play wherever I can though. I have not had this number of starts in years and I am back to just absolutely loving football and playing my best stuff. The whole team is playing well together."