Ross County boss John Hughes has revealed Caley Thistle tried to sign Billy Mckay in January but said there was no chance of the Staggies allowing the striker to return to Inverness.
The Northern Ireland international netted twice in County’s crucial 3-2 victory against Kilmarnock last weekend.
That moved him up to fourth in the all-time top scorers in the Scottish Premiership since its inception in 2013 with 57 goals.
Leigh Griffiths is the top scorer with 89 goals with Adam Rooney (66) second and Odsonne Edouard (62) third.
Mckay admitted after Saturday’s win that it has been a frustrating campaign for him after starting only 10 of the Staggies’ 31 league games so far.
Hughes confirmed Caley Thistle were keen to bring Mckay back to the Caledonian Stadium but has no plans to let the 32-year-old leave County anytime soon.
Hughes said: “Inverness have been all over it for months and months.
“Although we are rivals, a lot of players from Inverness end up here and vice versa.
“There’s no baggage, that’s the reason – they don’t have to move.
“They were sniffing about Billy.
“I am close to him, he’s not daft and at the start we were playing one striker to keep the door shut.
“Oli Shaw was playing there to give us more legs, but I always told him if we could get to January and get the foil for him he’d get his chance.
“There was no chance whatsoever that Billy McKay was leaving and there is no chance he’s leaving in the summer either.
“It was all about getting that foil for him. If it wasn’t a big striker like Jordan White, it was a number ten like Ryan Christie to use his movement.
“Billy likes to get in behind and bang, the ball is in the net. He’s in the top five Scottish Premiership goal scorers – that’s up there with guys like Kris Boyd (fifth on the list) and Leigh Griffiths.
“That’s unbelievable playing for provincial clubs.
“He’s a streaky striker as well, so hopefully he will go on a run now.
“But he can’t sit back and rest on his laurels because there are people looking over his shoulder.
“That’s the message I have given him.”
Well done to Leo Hjelde and Billy McKay who make the SPFL Team of the Week 👏 pic.twitter.com/8Fbr4e9V1W
— Ross County FC (@RossCounty) March 9, 2021
Hughes, meanwhile, confirmed defender Callum Morris is unlikely to feature again this seasn due to a hamstring injury.
But the Staggies boss is hopeful Carl Tremarco will be able to feature again this term, having also picked up a hamstring complaint against Kilmarnock at the weekend.
He said: “I think Callum will be out for the season but hopefully Carl will be back in three or four weeks.
“Carl has really impressed me since he came back with his desire to get back in good nick.
“He still has a massive part to play on the training pitch and in and around the boys.
“Even when he is injured he is in the gym. He still has a massive part to play.”