ANDREW Shinnie is certain Caley Thistle will continue to prosper next season due to the hard work done towards the end of this campaign by manager Terry Butcher.
The services of experienced players such as David Raven, Gary Warren and Ross Draper, who could all have departed at the end of the season, have been retained, while younger players like Graeme Shinnie, Josh Meekings, Daniel Devine, Liam Polworth and Ryan Christie agreed to extend their present deals.
Creative midfielder Shinnie, who scored 16 goals this season, may have chosen to leave for the English Championship and Birmingham City after two years with Inverness, but he feels he is going with Caley Thistle in very good health and more than capable of matching the success enjoyed this season, if not bettering it.
"I think the manager has done a great job in getting most of the players signed up," said the 23-year-old.
"It’s a great, young, athletic team, but there are also some very experienced heads.
"It’s a team that can progress and I’m looking forward to seeing how well they do next season."
Butcher has been busy for the past couple of months keeping one eye on bolstering his squad for the 2013/14 campaign as he looks to strengthen following the departures of eight of his current first-team pool
Along with Shinnie and Kilmarnock bound Antonio Reguero departing, Chris Hogg, Gavin Morrison, Shane Sutherland, Martin Laing and Scott Mathieson have headed for the exit door, while Simon King will retire after failing to recover from an ankle injury sustained earlier in the season.
Central defender Hogg, who played the final three games of the campaign after battling back from a serious knee injury that kept him out of the first-team for 18 months, was offered a one-year deal, but Butcher could not give him assurances that he would feature on a regular basis next season.
"I couldn’t guarantee Chris regular first-team football," said Butcher. "Gary Warren and Josh Meekings have been absolutely immense for us in central defence this season, so Chris felt it was time to move on."
Butcher has returned south of the border on holiday, but still expects to be kept busy during the close season.
He has already secured midfielder Ben Greenhalgh (20) and winger Danny Williams (24) on one-year deals and expects to announce further new arrivals in the near future having agreed, in principle, deals with other targets.
Charlie Taylor could also head back to Caley Thistle on loan next season with Butcher set to hold talks with Leeds United about the versatile 19-year-old, who made eight appearances for Inverness after moving north in January.
"I will speak to Brian McDermott (Leeds United manager) and see what their plans are for him as he’s got another year on his contract at Leeds," said Butcher.
"I know Charlie would love to come back, so the signs are looking good, but we’ll need to see what Leeds say."
As well as looking to make new signings for next season, Butcher still has business to conclude in terms of agreeing new contracts with two members of the current squad at Caley Thistle.
He confirmed yesterday that winger Aaron Doran (22) is "extremely close" to signing a two-year deal, but is still awaiting news from the agent of 28-year-old midfielder Owain Tudur Jones.For more post-Highland derby reaction, see today's Inverness Courier.