INVERNESS Caledonian Thistle manager John Hughes has offered eight of the club’s promising youngsters full-time contracts for next season.
The eight, who have all come through the club’s Academy system, will all be available for the club’s Under-20 side for the 2014/15 season.
Six of the eight are Inverness born and bred, with the seventh from Aberdeen and the eighth born in London but brought up in the Highland capital.
Hughes welcomed the signings, saying: “These lads have come through our youth development system and have progressed to the point where we’re able to offer them the opportunity of full-time football next season.
“I’m very keen to give local talent its chance, and Ryan [Christie] and Liam [Polworth] have shaped up very well in recent months”.
And Hughes gave the youngsters hope that they might be able to force their way into his first team plans, adding: “It would be very satisfying if a couple of this latest batch of recruits were to progress enough to come into the first team pool in due course.
“That’s their challenge if they are good enough no matter their age we will give them an opportunity.”
Goalkeeper Daniel Hoban and striker Jaime Wilson at 16 are the youngest of the new recruits, while midfielders Blair MacLennan, Struan McArthur, Stephen Rennie, left-back Kane Hull, right back Chris Brown and attacker Chris Blackett who are all aged 17 complete the eight.
Caley Jags chairman Kenny Cameron said the club had been ‘very active’ in terms of youth development, adding that it was ‘satisfying’ to be able to offer new contracts to the eight.
He explained: “Unfortunately, the way the current system works and due the financial constraints that are placed on clubs of our size we end up having to make decisions on our Under-20s lads sometimes based on their age and whether or not they are available to continue in our ‘development squad’.
“This can be unfair of the young lads but when they do progress from the 20s to our first team pool it means we are getting the best through our system. It is testament to the sterling work done by our Youth Academy team that we can bring through these young lads in such healthy numbers. The club will give them their chance and it is now up to them to grasp the opportunity to develop and progress.
“The club’s future lies in bringing through more home-grown players into the senior squad. John Hughes has a track record of giving youth its chance and Ryan Christie has emerged as an exciting prospect since John showed faith in him.”