Caley Thistle Academy pride at Scotland Under-21 call ups for players
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Three Inverness Caledonian Thistle stars have been called up to the Scotland under-21 squad.
Cameron Harper, Robbie Deas and Roddy MacGregor are all in contention to feature in the friendly double header against Northern Ireland next month, alongside former team-mate Daniel MacKay.
All four players became key members of the Caley Thistle squad last season as they just missed out on a play-off place.
While Deas and MacKay represented Scotland at under-19 level, it is the first time Harper and MacGregor will be involved in the national set-up.
For the latter three, who came through the Inverness academy together, it is the next step in the journey for three homegrown players from the Highland capital.
ICT’s head of youth development Charlie Christie says the trio’s progress – with MacKay recently moving on to Premiership outfit Hibernian – has done the whole club proud.
“What really has been incredibly pleasing has been seeing three boys from the one age group play regularly,” Christie said.
“We’ve had players in the past who have maybe dipped in and out of the team for two, three or four matches.
“But these boys have been an integral part of the team this season along with guys like Ryan Fyffe and Harry Nicolson.
“For a football club to have that coming out of one age group, it’s fantastic.
“I remember taking them to tournaments abroad in Spain and Portugal, and they always excelled in these tournaments against good opposition.
“It’s good to see that part of their development has come to the fore now.”
The likes of Liam Polworth and Ryan Christie showed that it was possible for local youngsters to break into the first team.
That has certainly been the case with this crop, who won the under-17 league.
Much was made of 10 players in that side signing professional terms, and Christie says they have knows the group’s potential for a long time.
“We spoke about these 2001 players since they were under-12s,” he explained.
“I remember seeing them for the first time playing an under-12 game, and I remember thinking this is a group of players.
“Quite often we’ll have maybe one or two, three or four players from one age group, but from that 2001 group, we have nine or 10, which is well above average.
“We saw the potential in them, we really did. I remember chatting to Ronnie Duncan at the time. We saw the potential in a young age with a lot of them.
“I know there are such things as late developers, but in the norm – take Liam Polworth for example, when I saw him playing at 10 years old I knew he was head and shoulders above his peers.
“You do see players standing out, and the good thing for me too is that that sends a message to the other players that they have to improve and aspire to get to that level, which is great.”