Buckie Thistle manager Graeme Stewart has warned Caley Thistle they will not get his captain on the cheap after giving midfielder Kevin Fraser permission to join Inverness on trial.
The 26-year-old will spend the week training with the Championship club after the Highland League champions granted a request from Caley Jags to take a closer look at the Highland League player of the year.
Stewart has backed his captain to impress, but warned Jags will not part company with their player easily.
He said: “John Robertson was my manager when I was there, so I know it’s a good club for Kevin and he knows it as well as he was there as a young lad.
“But we’re not about to give away our best player for free.
“We’ve given him the opportunity, but he has three years remaining on his contract and Caley Thistle will need to pay for him.
“We’ll need to sign three players just to replace him, which is why we’ll be looking for his market value.”
Stewart believes Fraser, a former Caley Jags youth-team player, deserves a chance to play at a higher level but is frustrated the approach for his player has come just days before the start of the Highland League season.
He said: “I’m surprised it has taken until now for someone to come in for Kevin, although it’s really bad timing for us in that it has come on the eve of the Highland League season starting. I would have preferred for this to happen at the start of pre-season.
“Caley Thistle watched him against Dundee United last week which was his poorest game for us in a while and he still impressed them.
“I know how good a player he is. He was the best player on the park at Dundee on Saturday and outshone some high-profile names in that Dundee team.
“I’ve always said he can play at Premiership level and, while we’re letting him have the chance of showing he can play for Caley Thistle in the Championship, we won’t be giving him away.”