Caley Thistle manager John Hughes has conceded defeat in his attempt to bring back Billy Mckay to the club but Ross County could be poised to sign the forward on loan.
Dundee United have had a £200,00 offer accepted by Wigan Athletic for Mckay, who joined the Latics from Caley Jags in January for £150,000.
But United face competition for the forward’s signature, with Championship side Hibs also making their interest in the Northern Ireland international known yesterday, while County are interested in taking Mckay on loan.
While Hibs and County hope to hijack United’s third attempt to bring Mckay back to Scotland, Caley Jags manager Hughes has been priced out of a move for the player.
Hughes said: “We can’t afford to bring in Billy like maybe a Celtic, Aberdeen or Dundee United can. That goes unnoticed at times. All credit to them if they can lure him because we had a sniff at it as well and it’s way out of our range. They must be paying some money for him.
“It gets forgotten in Scotland the budgets that some clubs have and that’s what made last season so special. All credit to them if it comes within their budget, I’m not knocking that. I need to go find the next Billy Mckay.”
“I would have loved to bring in Billy and, if he goes to Dundee United, I wish him all the best. We’ve just got to keep sniffing about.”
Hughes has been left frustrated in his efforts to bring in another forward before tomorrow’s Premiership trip to Dundee, with an unnamed player turning down the opportunity to join Caley Jags on loan.
Hughes explained: “I thought I had got someone in until I got back from training and found out the boy didn’t want to come to Scotland. I thought we were close to getting him on loan. That’s not the first time that’s happened. You get used to it and go again and see what else is about.
“We need someone with a physical presence, someone who is a runner.”
It looks like it will be third time lucky for United manager Jackie McNamara but he is not taking anything for granted until Mckay has agreed to put pen to paper on a deal with the Tangerines, especially as there has been late interest from Hibs and County in the player.