Caley Thistle manager John Robertson says he has challenged Lewis Toshney to make himself a key part of his Inverness backline.
Robertson moved to sign Toshney from League 1 side Falkirk earlier this month, with the former Celtic and Ross County defender signing an 18-month contract.
Inverness have already lost Coll Donaldson to rivals Ross County during the January transfer window, while they also face the prospect of losing Jamie McCart after he agreed a pre-contract with St Johnstone.
Saints are also keen to sign right back Shaun Rooney, along with Championship rivals Dundee.
With Inverness facing major changes to their defensive line, Robertson says Toshney will have the opportunity to stake his claim for a starting place with next season in mind.
Robertson said: “We’ve been very proactive. We have to be when you look at speculation surrounding virtually our entire defence, with teams interested in them.
“Signing Lewis Toshney wasn’t just for this season. It bolsters the defence this season, but it’s also for the long-term.
“We’ve got a few players coming out of contract. It is always notoriously difficult to bring people in during January.
“Can we bring people in of the quality we require, to see us through this season, next season and beyond?
“There’s no immediate gap there because Lewis comes in. He’s come to a team who are second in the Championship, in the semi-finals of the Challenge Cup and going well.
“He knows he is going to have to be patient, but he’s trained very well.
“He’s there to put pressure on the likes of Shaun Rooney, Brad Mckay and others.”
Robertson insists he bears no grudges towards Donaldson, who returned to the Premiership with the Staggies after completing his switch to Dingwall on an undisclosed fee last week.
The Caley Jags boss added: “While it was disappointing to lose Coll, he was great for us.
“He came here with confidence at rock bottom, having taken a lot of stick at Dundee United from a section of their support.
“He’s got himself back to the level he was before. He’s a Premiership player.”