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Highland League ambition for Caley Thistle Colts

By Andrew Henderson

John Robertson still believes that entering an Inverness Caledonian Thistle Colts side into the Highland League is the best way forward for the club to develop their younger players.

It has been a long-running ambition of the Caley Thistle boss to make a Colts side a reality, and he has already made a presentation to the Highland League to argue his case.

"We're still pushing for it," Robertson said.

"We've said before that loaning players out to Highland League clubs is not a route that has worked for the club.

"You look over the years, and I think only Graeme Shinnie has come through that route. It's not a route that we think is going to help.

"We want to try and keep the players together, because when they go out – take the defenders, they could be playing in a back four, a back three or a back five.

"We've got midfield players who are central midfielders who end up playing wide, or strikers that end up playing wide.

"The ideal scenario for us to progress for the last couple of years of Project Brave would mean a colts team in the Highland League."

According to Robertson, the potential side would be all about giving the younger players at the club experience in a first team environment, and not winning titles.

The likes of Roddy MacGregor could benefit from a Colts side in the Highland League more than reserve football or loans. Picture: Ken Macpherson
The likes of Roddy MacGregor could benefit from a Colts side in the Highland League more than reserve football or loans. Picture: Ken Macpherson

And he thinks his suggestion was well received by the league after he had the chance to put his ideas forward.

"We have put forward a good presentation to them in terms of what we think we could bring," he explained.

"It would be a good team that wouldn't threaten the title, but would give our players the best opportunity to progress and develop.

"It wouldn't be a reserve team, it would be under-20s with the proviso of two overage players.

"It's still very much dependent on various scenarios, and it would still need ratification from all the teams.

"I have to thank them for the time and effort that they made to come and see us, letting us put our presentation to them. They were very supportive and understood where we were coming from.

"From our perspective, that would be the perfect scenario, because the reserve league doesn't work for us.

"It's too many fixtures too far away, and this would allow boys to get into a first team mindset, because all of the away games would be played at 3pm on a Saturday afternoon, so their training would revert to the same as the first team.

"It's all ifs, buts and maybes, but the Colts route is certainly something we are keen to do and are excited to do, but very much in a partnership and in conjunction with the good wishes of the Highland League."

Part of the reason the idea of a Caley Thistle Colts side is being brought up now is because of the potential spot in the league should Cove Rangers win promotion to League Two.

"It's still dependent on a number of various situations, the main one being a space being available," Robertson admitted.

"That space would only really be available if Cove Rangers make it up. If Cove go up they've got an immediate space.

"But there are other things as well, you've got teams like Banks O' Dee who have been there for a few years, and if they wanted the place they would get the place.

"There are various things, it's like a slot machine – you have to wait and see if the bars all line up at the end of the season.

"The main one for us, the most advantageous or possible route for us would appear to be Cove Rangers making it up.

"If they don't then there's no discussion, we'll have to look at the scenario – and unfortunately it won't suit our young players – of loaning them out."

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