ST MIRREN caretaker manager Gary Teale is under no illusion that the financial model operated by the club means they must sell their best players and he is resigned to the fact that their impressive midfielder Kenny McLean will be sold in the fullness of time.
However, he feels there has been a gross undervaluation of the exciting 22-year-old when you consider Rangers pulled in close to £1 million from Brentford for Lewis Macleod – who had never played in Scotland’s top flight.
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Aspirational Fleetwood Town, just outside the League One play-off places and managed by Teale’s former international team-mate Graham Alexander, made an almost derisory offer of £150,000 for McLean last weekend, which was swiftly rebuffed.
Teale feels it was typical of the attitude of clubs south of the Border, who feel they can plunder the best Scottish talent at knockdown prices.
Dundee United manager Jackie McNamara holds the same view after Sheffield United offered £150,000 for Gary Mackay-Steven, even if the forward’s contract is up this summer.
Teale said: “I think English clubs chance their arm a bit as they don’t hold Scottish football in high regard. Lewis Macleod went for around £850,000 to £1m to Brentford so I don’t see how anyone thinks they can get Kenny for £150,000.
“For me Kenny has shown it a lot more consistently than Lewis Macleod and for a longer period, plus he’s played a lot more top-flight games.
“Whether we would get £850,000 for Kenny, I would very much doubt. It’s hard to put a value on him but it’s certainly a lot higher than £150,000. The Macleod deal might be with add-ons but I would rate Kenny at about the same.
“Look at what Dundee United have done by sticking to their guns with transfers. It’s a hard one as the club has to look after itself financially and, if they were to get a reasonable amount of money, it would set them up for the next wee while.
“So it’s about deciding when the right time is to sell. I’ve not heard about a second bid. Fleetwood are an excellent club going in the right direction but, for me, Kenny could go into a Championship club no problem.
“As a manager you want to keep your best players and Kenny is certainly one of our best so I don’t want to see him go. But, in terms of him making a career for himself, I’d love him to move on to bigger things, so you have mixed feelings.
“It would hinder my chances of getting the job full-time and the club’s chances of staying in the league if you are selling your best players. But he’s been here a long time and, if somebody comes in with a reasonable offer, then he’ll move on.
“Then you would hope that, if he moves on for a good price, you will be able to replace him.”
At least Teale will have McLean’s services for the visit of impressive league leaders Aberdeen tomorrow after the SFA’s Fast Track Tribunal yesterday overturned the red card issued by Willie Collum in the New Year’s Day defeat by Kilmarnock.
That was timely given that striker Stevie Thompson is now sidelined for another three weeks following hernia surgery yesterday, having only managed eight games this season after groin surgery in September.
Teale said: “At the time I was very vocal about the referee. I think that was justified. I’ve nothing against him but I felt we had to appeal. I’m just delighted that we’ll have Kenny available as we’re going to be without Marc McAusland through suspension and Steven Thompson.
“It’s very disappointing for the team because Stevie is such a big player but he has been carrying the injury for a while now and we need to get to the bottom of it and get it sorted.”
Teale, with one win and four defeats since replacing Tommy Craig, is desperate to chalk up a first home victory of the season to enhance his chances of becoming manager on a full-time basis.
He said: “Somebody said to me that Aberdeen have the best defensive record in European football right now. We are under no illusion – it’s going to be a difficult game. Their front four are excellent and Derek McInnes has been an excellent manager for them.
“We will go in with belief. Our home form has been terrible but how nice would it be to get the first three points of the season against the form team in the league.”
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