Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes has accepted the Dons may be forced to sell Kenny McLean in January after the midfielder confirmed he intends to leave the club when his contract expires at the end of the season.
The midfielder joined the Dons from St Mirren in January 2015 in a deal worth around £300,000. It was the first time the Dons had paid a transfer fee for a player since signing forward Tommy Wright from Darlington for £100,000 in 2008.
Rangers had a £300,000 bid for McLean rejected during the summer transfer window and Light Blues manager Pedro Caixinha remains keen to bring the Scotland cap to Ibrox. Sunderland, QPR and Birmingham were also linked with the player before the start of the season.
Speaking ahead of tonight’s top of the table tussle against Celtic, McInnes admitted the Dons may choose to sell the player during the January transfer window if the club’s valuation is met.
He said: “I’ve got it in my head that I will be working with him for the rest of the season but like everything else we can only control that until then.
“If we get an offer in January then it may well be something that we would consider it like everything else.
“I’m not thinking about replacing him in January and we have considered offers before but it wasn’t in our interests to do anything.
“That may well be different in January but I would rather he lifted the Scottish Cup with us and played to his full potential for us for the rest of the season.
“It’s nothing to do with me where he goes next but if he asks my advice on anything then I would gladly sit down with him.
“I have a good relationship with Kenny, I like him and you only get one career so it’s important you look for different things from it.
“I think he would be the first to say he is loving his time here and where ever he ends up let’s hope he goes having achieved what he wants to at Aberdeen.”
The Dons will be without Ryan Christie, one of their best performers this season, for tonight’s match at Pittodrie against the Hoops with the on-loan midfielder ineligible to feature against his parent club.
However McInnes, whose side have won three matches in a row without conceding a goal, is confident his side can pose a serious test for Brendan Rodgers’ men, who are looking to extend their unbeaten domestic run to 61 games.
The Aberdeen manager added: “I think there has been a level of expectation for the last few years to be honest.
“We have been the team that has tried to give some sort of semblance of pushing Celtic. Celtic have always been hard to beat, especially when they meet the standards they met last season.
“If they can get anywhere close to that level of consistency and points tally then they will win the league again.
“It is up to us to make them work for it and every game is a challenge. Celtic provide every team, including ourselves, with the biggest challenge whenever you play them.
“You can’t depend on luck or Celtic not being on it. You’re only happy if you put in a performance that’s in you.”