MAURICE Malpas would love to be reunited with James McFadden and David Clarkson - but admits they are well out of Caley Thistle's price range.
The Inverness CT assistant manager, along with boss Terry Butcher, was in charge of the former Scotland duo when they were highly-rated rising stars at Motherwell around 12 years ago.
Both players hit the heights for club and country, but are now free agents fuelling local speculation that, following Aberdeen's failure to land McFadden last term, he and Clarkson could agree to return to the SPL, and with Caley Thistle.
However, Malpas insists fans must keep their feet on the ground as the club prepare to strike deals with as many as seven new players this summer.
Striker McFadden (29) will forever be a Scotland hero for hitting his sensational wonder goal in the 1-0 win against France in Paris in September 2007 in a Euro qualifier.
He's been capped 48 times for Scotland, but injury has been a key reason why his last appearance for his country was in 2010 against Liechtenstein.
After leaving Motherwell in 2003, he enjoyed five fabulous years with Everton in the English Premiership before moving to Birmingham City five years ago, making 82 appearances for the club, although injuries prevented that tally rising.
When Birmingham were relegated in the 2010-11 season, McFadden opted to move on after failing to agree terms at St Andrews and he returned to Everton, but only featured in eight first-team games.
Last October, Celtic tried to snap up the star, but no deal was agreed and Craig Brown, who worked with the forward at international level, failed twice to take him to Aberdeen.
Clarkson (27) spent seven years at Motherwell, bagging 56 goals in 253 appearances. In 2009, he sealed a move to Bristol City. He's played 63 times, including 34 as a sub, and he's scored 11 goals.
He has now been released by the Championship club after a short spell on loan at League One side Brentford.
Clarkson also pulled on the navy Scotland jersey, winning two caps, in 2008 against the Czech Republic and a year later against Argentina.
Malpas admits he'd bite your hand off to bring either star to Inverness, but insists it will not happen because both players can still net great deals south of the border.
He explained: "Terry and I obviously rate both players very highly, having worked with them at Motherwell but we're not looking to bring them here, there's just no way that we could afford them.
"Supporters will be speculating about who the manager is looking at, but they have to pull back on their ideas in terms of attracting players of the stature of James and David.
"Don't get me wrong, we'd love to be able to bring them to Caley Thistle, but realistically they are out of our range and I'd expect they'll be considering their options."