Billy Mckay is urging Robbie Deas to stay put at Caley Thistle and help take the club into the Premiership.
The defender has been attracting attention from Premiership St Johnstone, who last week had a bid rejected by the Inverness club, reportedly in the region of £150,000.
The 21-year-old, who has made the left-back berth his own after switching from his natural central defensive position, has made 29 appearances for ICT and impressive displays have captured attention in Perth.
Striker Mckay, whose 12th goal of the season came in Saturday’s frenetic 2-2 Championship draw at home to Queen of the South, wants Deas to play in the top-flight next season – but with Inverness.
He said: “Robbie has been a big part of this squad this season, perhaps playing every week when available. We want to keep the squad together.
“For his sake, he wants to see this club reach the Premiership as well. He will have aspirations to get into the Premiership and we believe he can do that with this club.
“He has been playing out of position this season. He’s more of a centre half, so he’s doing a great job at left-back.
“We have got a lot of good young players here and we want to keep them together.”
Mckay reaches 12 after Ridgers’ assist
Goals from Mckay and Tom Walsh put ICT ahead after Lee Connelly’s first half opener, but a controversial leveller from Ally Roy earned second-bottom Queens a point as ICT fell four points behind leaders Arbroath.
For the second time this term, a long kick from goalkeeper Mark Ridgers ended with Mckay sticking the ball in the net.
The forward’s joy was dampened by their failure to hold on for the win.
He said: “I’ve not been as clinical recently, so I was delighted to get the goal.A big shout out to the big kick out from Mark Ridgers for the second time this season, but while I was happy to get the goal, I am disappointed it didn’t lead to a win.
“It’s now a little run where we’ve not won, so we have to stick together and come out the other side of it.
“We had chances to win it, but not been as clinical as we could have been. We’ve not been beaten though and that’s the main thing.”
Side must learn from conceded goals
There was plenty of confusion when Queens’ leveller counted after referee Willie Collum overruled an offside decision.
As it happened, a touch from ICT defender David Carson meant Roy was onside when he was free to slot beyond Mark Ridgers for a share of the spoils.
Mckay admits it was a frustrating moment, but admits the team also could have prevented the goal before that stage.
He added: “Our defender, because he was the last one to play the ball, their man was onside. What do you expect your defender to do in that situation? Leave it and hope he’s offside?
“We’ve looked at it and we should do better in the first stage in any case. We will analyse it and try to do better and not let it get to that point.”
Not in peak form but still second best
Despite bagging just two wins in nine,and drawing their last three matches, Mckay insists the group are determined to get back to winning ways as they stay the closest side to leaders Arbroath.
He said: “You can see the willingness is there, as is the willingness and effort to come back and try and win the game.
“On another day, we’d have been a bit more ruthless. Even at the end, we have a half-chance where we could have won it.
“We’re a good group and we will stick together and keep going. If we win our game in hand, we’re only one point off the top. We will keep looking at the positives even although we have not been at our best.”
ICT now face back-to-back away league games, with Saturday’s trip to Dunfermline Athletic followed by a visit to Kilmarnock.