Inverness: Ryan Christie tipped for big move by John Hughes

Ryan Christie (centre) celebrates with Aaron Doran and Graeme Shinnie
Ryan Christie (centre) has scored twice for Caley Thistle this season

Ryan Christie will follow Ryan Gauld, Andrew Robertson and Stevie May in earning a big transfer, his manager, John Hughes, has predicted.

The 19-year-old midfielder's performances for Inverness Caledonian Thistle this season have led to a call-up to the Scotland Under-21 squad.

"I've worked with a lot of young kids," said Hughes. "Throughout my career, I've given a lot of young kids their debuts and put them in the first team.

"This kind is something special."

John Hughes on Ryan Christie
"Sometimes as a manager you don't point out individuals, but he's a special player"

Fellow Scots Gauld and Robertson left Dundee United this summer for Sporting Lisbon and Hull City respectively, while May switched to Sheffield Wednesday from St Johnstone.

"He's still got plenty of work to do to become the player we're hoping he becomes and that might mean, in a few years' time, he has to move on from Inverness," said Hughes of the SPFL young player of September, Christie.

"We understand that, but we'd all take great pride in playing a part in his development and that goes with all the coaches when he's been coming through in the academy - I've just inherited him."

Christie, whose father, Charlie, earned his own plaudits for creative talents that led to a move from Inverness Thistle to Celtic, has scored twice in nine appearances for the Highlanders this term.

"I've been about football for a long time and there are some really talented footballers in that dressing room - technically very good, know the game very well," Hughes told BBC Scotland.

"And the pick of the bunch in terms of headlines at the moment is Ryan Christie.

"Sometimes as a manager you don't point out individuals, but he's a special player.

"Do you know what makes him special? He trains with a smile on his face.

"You look at him and you say, 'this kid just loves to train and play football'."

Charlie Christie
Charlie Christie is a former Inverness Caley Thistle player and manager

Hughes thinks that Christie will become a role model for Highland children.

"The best thing about him is he's home-grown, born and bred from Inverness, now plying his trade in the first team," he said.

"It sends a message of inspiration right throughout the academy for all the other young kids to say, 'there's one of our own in the first team'."

Hughes said Christie's team-mates were making sure that the teenager's success does not go to his head.

"He comes back from the Scotland Under-21s walks into that dressing room and, quick as a flash, the boys are right into him calling him 'Mr Scotland'," he said.

"And we walk out on the training pitch and he's there putting goals out and mannequins out and putting all the stuff away because we keep his feet firmly on the ground.

"He knows he's still doing his apprenticeship."

Caley Thistle defender Gary Warren stressed that they were trying to avoid putting pressure on a player who's "still learning the game".

"But he's started the season very brightly," he said. "He's a very talented young lad. He's got everything in his game.

"If he can remain consistent throughout the season, he has a bright future."