Caley Thistle captain Gary Warren expects a tougher Premiership next season, and warned his club must do all it can to ensure they are not left behind.
The Highlanders have slipped out of the top-six for the first time in four seasons, however Sunday’s 3-1 win against Kilmarnock all but secured top-flight safety.
They will be joined next season by Rangers following their Championship title triumph, while Falkirk, Hibernian and Raith Rovers will all be pushing for promotion through the play-offs.
Defender Warren is one of just seven Caley Jags first-team players signed for next season, with midfielders Danny Williams and James Vincent having agreed pre-contracts with Dundee.
Premiership rivals St Johnstone already announced they will increase their recruitment budget next season and Warren says his side must also be ready for the greater competition.
The 31-year-old said: “Hopefully we can get the majority of the squad signed up and add to it. The most important thing for this club is to keep improving and that’s bringing in players to add to what we’ve got to make the squad stronger and kick on again next year.
“It will probably be the toughest league it’s been for a while when, with Rangers coming up, and the majority of the teams at the top end of the Championship are good sides.
“So it will be a tough league and as a club we need to add players to bring our squad up to a level where we can still compete for the top six and keep improving.
“I relish the increased competition. The big teams will only raise our game and level of performance. If it doesn’t we’ll be found out and be at the bottom end of the league. So we have to quickly adjust and shape up and the start of the season will again be massive for us.”
Inverness enjoyed their first taste of European football last summer, falling to a 1-0 aggregate defeat against Romanian outfit Astra Giurgiu.
Although Caley Thistle will enjoy a longer summer break this time around, Warren is disappointed not to have another European encounter to look forward to. He added: “We need to recharge the batteries and have our holidays. But European football is what we dream of as kids and if we don’t relish these chances what’s the point of playing?
“If we don’t we might as well have a kick around with our mates on a Sunday afternoon. So for us it’s disappointing that we’ve not got it this year. But I’d expect everyone to come back recharged and refocused for the task next season.”