Caley Thistle manager John Hughes believes midfielder Ryan Christie is destined for the English Premier League.
Christie is part of the Scotland under-21 squad which will face Hungary in a friendly on Thursday, and is fresh from winning the young player of the month award for the second time this season for his performances in February.
Hughes is eager Christie, 19, continues his development with Inverness but believes it is inevitable the teenager will be signed by an English top-flight club.
Hughes has urged Christie, the son of former Caley Thistle player and manager Charlie, to make the most of his experience of playing for his country, and said: “It’s great for Inverness that when we’re producing players, they’re getting recognition with the Scotland under-21s.
“I don’t think Ryan’s future lies in Inverness. I think it lies in the English Premier League. That’s how highly I rate him.
“He’s still got a lot of hard work to do before he gets to that standard. I’m talking about maturity, strength, power – but he’ll never lose his technical ability, which is fantastic. The power and strength is coming.
“If I said to Ryan at the start of the season he would play anywhere between 20 and 30 games in his first season as a professional, he was never going to be daunted by that.
“He trains really hard and he’s clever enough to grasp the concept of what I’m looking for. It’s excellent he’s in the under-21 squad.
“His technical ability is up there with the best of them.
“I had a look at the rest of the squad and he’s in good company. It helps his development because he will go down there and test his skills against different players.
“It’ll be great for him to test himself with Ryan Gauld, who’s a similar player, and see how far he’s got to go to match him. He’s doing a fantastic apprenticeship and I think Ryan should be here for another couple of years, although clubs are looking at him all the time.”
Aberdeen midfielder Cammy Smith was also called into the Scotland yesterday by caretaker manager Danny Lennon following the withdrawals of Ross County defender Marcus Fraser, Hibernian forward Jason Cummings and Kilmarnock midfielder Craig Slater. Hearts forward Billy King and Kilmarnock defender Mark O’Hara have also received call-ups.