Caley Thistle have opened discussions with the Highland League over the possibility of entering a colts team next season should Cove Rangers gain promotion to League 2.
Inverness have no team in the SPFL Reserve League meaning they face a problematic scenario next season when the bulk of their highly-rated under-18s squad will be too old for the category.
The side, which is managed by Barry Wilson and Ryan Esson, enjoyed a second successive league triumph when they won the performance tier title last month.
Caley Jags manager John Robertson is keen to bridge the gap between youth and first team football and believes the addition of an under-20s team to the Highland League would be more beneficial to the club’s youngsters than being loaned out to teams in the division.
Robertson has been encouraged by early talks, and he said: “We are still pushing for it. We have said before, loaning players out to Highland League clubs is not a route that has worked for the club.
“In all the years, I think only Graeme Shinnie has come through that route. It’s not one we feel is going to help, especially with this group of players who we want to keep together.
“We have had very good and very positive talks with the Highland League. They have been very sympathetic towards us. They understand our needs.
“We have put forward a good presentation to them in terms of what we think we could bring. We would bring a good team that would not threaten the title, but would give our players the best opportunity to progress and develop.
“From our perspective that would be the perfect scenario because the reserve league does not work for us. There are too many fixtures, too far away.”
Robertson insists the proposal depends entirely on whether Cove progress past Berwick Rangers in next week’s pyramid play-offs, with the Caley Jags boss adding: “It’s all ifs, buts and maybes. The colts route is something we are keen and excited to do, but very much in a partnership and in conjunction with the good wishes of the Highland League.
“It is still dependant on various situations, the main one being a space being available, and that would only really be available if Cove Rangers make it up. If Cove go up, they would have an immediate space.
“It’s like a slot machine, we have to wait to see if the bars all line up at the end of the season. The most advantageous route for us would appear to be Cove Rangers making it up, but if they don’t there is no discussion.
“We would have to look at a scenario that won’t suit our young players in the respect we would have to loan them out.”