TERRY Butcher will be cautious when it comes to the development of young defender Matthew Cooper.
The 18-year-old enhanced his growing reputation on Saturday with an impressive showing both in central defence and at right back in the pre-season victory over Coventry City.
The progress made by Cooper has won plaudits from his team-mates and fans alike, and while Butcher himself has also been impressed, he knows the former Aberdeen youth player is still very much learning his trade.
"Matthew still has progress to make," he said. "It’s all well and good performing pre-season fixtures when there’s no points at stake, but it’s a different environment in the SPL.
"However, if we have to play young players like Matthew in the SPL then that’s what we have to do.
"Already Matthew and the other youngsters have learned a lot pre-season and he’s certainly one that’s proved to me he can handle being in the first-team.
"He’s taken such a massive step forward with how he’s performed pre-season, yet he’s taken it in his stride. However, we have to make sure that he keeps taking one step at a time."
Inverness are in friendly action tonight with a strong squad making the trip to Brechin City, while a younger side will travel up to Wick Academy tomorrow.
Butcher is hopeful that Gary Warren will play 45 minutes at Harmsworth Park tomorrow, but David Raven is definitely out of both matches after he sustained a head knock at the weekend, while Simon King is a doubt with a thigh strain.
Meanwhile, Caley Thistle will play Brora Rangers behind closed doors at Tulloch Caledonian Stadium on Saturday in what is scheduled to be their final warm-up match ahead of the new Scottish Premier League season starting on 4th August.
For more Caley Thistle news see today's Inverness Courier