Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes would like to bring Ryan Christie to Pittodrie permanently, if possible – but has resigned himself to losing Kenny McLean.
Former Caley Thistle midfielder Christie has been a shining light during his loan spell from Celtic Park but, unless the parameters shift, he will be going back to Parkhead at the end of the season.
McInnes already knows McLean does not want to sign a new contract and will leave for free in the summer. The Dons manager has no plans to convince McLean to change his mind.
There have been no discussions at this stage with regards to Christie’s future and the player himself has spoken about his desire to get a season of football under his belt before deciding his next move.
McInnes said: “In an ideal world I’d love to keep working with him but it’s not something that’s been spoken about. Celtic and Ryan are in the driving seat with that.
“We’ve just got him for the remaining part of the campaign but if there was any encouragement that it would be a possibility it’s obviously something I’d be keen on. Whether it can be done or not I don’t know.”
With the addition of Lewis Morgan to Celtic’s squad in the summer and Jonny Hayes to come back from injury, Christie may well find himself down the pecking order should he return to Brendan Rodgers’ team.
McInnes said: “It’s always been something that’s hung about successful Old Firm teams. Similar to myself hanging about with Rangers without ever being a regular – you hang about for those Champions League games and Scottish Cup finals to be involved.
“But is it to the detriment of your career? There’s that argument as well. It’s a fine balance, really, for being a squad player at a bigger club.”
The future of McLean he is far more certain about. The former St Mirren midfielder – subject of a £300,000 bid from Rangers in the summer – is free to speak to other clubs now but both parties plan on him being at Pittodrie until the end of the season.
McInnes said: “I speak with Kenny every other day and it’s not something I’m looking to broach again. We always try to look two windows ahead of ourselves if we can and try to divide the money up we have to play with. We are preparing for life without Kenny.
“I’m planning for Kenny to be here until the end of the season. We have 16 league games and hopefully four Scottish Cup games to negotiate and I’m hoping and expecting him to be here.
“I think he’ll be big shoes to fill. I’d think that for any player who plays week in, week out for us in a team which finishes second and gets to cup finals.
“Kenny is also an international now and he might be one who people really appreciate only when he is not there. That happens all of the time. I see the quality in the boy.”