Caley Thistle manager John Robertson accepts the top-flight ambition of a number of his players is preventing them from committing to new contracts at Caledonian Stadium.
Inverness have tabled fresh offers to several players including defender Coll Donaldson, while Jamie McCart, Brad Mckay, Charlie Trafford, Tom Walsh and Jordan White are also among those out of contract.
Caley Jags have recent experience of losing players to top-flight clubs, with Liam Polworth departing to Motherwell and Joe Chalmers opting to join rivals Ross County following their promotion last summer.
Robertson reckons Premiership football will be an attractive lure to those reaching the end of their contracts, with the Caley Jags manager hoping to convince them to stay by succeeding in the Highlanders’ own promotion target.
Robertson said: “There’s a variety of reasons, but I think the main one is they will want to play at the highest level possible.
“There is nothing wrong with that – that’s ambition, but it leaves us in a difficult situation. The fans get impatient and think we’re not trying to sign our best players – we are.
“The problem is some don’t want to sign because they feel they’re at a level where they can play week-in, week-out in the Premiership. That’s where everybody wants to play.
“No disrespect, but do they want to travel to Gayfield, Alloa or Firhill on Saturday, or Ibrox, Celtic Park and Pittodrie?
“They want to measure themselves against the best and they may well see, at this point of time, going out of contract is the best way to do it. It may not be, we don’t know.
“All we can do is have regular, monthly chats with them to see where they are and whether anything has changed. Unfortunately, at this moment in time, it hasn’t.”
Inverness look increasingly likely they will be forced to negotiate the play-offs if they are to reach the top-flight, having fallen 13 points adrift of runaway Championship leaders Dundee United following Saturday’s 3-1 loss to Partick Thistle.
Robertson says the two remaining matches against Robbie Neilson’s men will be key to the hopes of reducing the gap but has urged his side not to be sidetracked by the Tannadice outfit’s form.
Robertson added: “We can’t do anything but applaud them – but they don’t hand out the medals in December, it’s May.
“If they keep doing what they’re doing, nobody will catch them.
“What we’ve got to do is keep winning games and hope they slip up.
“Right now, it’s United’s to lose but we can’t affect what they do, apart from when we play them.
“That’s what we’ll try to do at some stage because if we can match them win-for-win and beat them in the two matches, suddenly that gap comes down. But we can’t look that far ahead.”