With top scorer Paul Heffernan out until the winter after breaking his collarbone, Kilmarnock manager Kenny Shiels is ready to turn the clock back and hand the No 9 shirt to Colin Nish in an attempt to add a cutting edge to the League Cup holders.
Shiels is trying to sign the 31-year-old – who scored 46 goals in three-and-a-half seasons at Rugby Park before joining Hibs in 2008 – on loan from League One Hartlepool United.
Nish left for Victoria Park last year but new manager Neale Cooper is willing to let him go.
“Signing a striker would be a priority for us,” he said. “I’ve been trying to get Colin Nish on loan. He’s never worked under a manager who likes to play the ball to him on the ground – everyone else had played it in the air to him and that’s not his strength.
“I’ve tried to get him because he’s got good feet, he can hold the ball up and he’s a former player as well, of course.
“St Johnstone were also in for him but now that they’ve signed Craig Beattie that might end their interest. However, we won’t be able to get him in time for Saturday’s game at Inverness.”
Shiels’ team head north to the Caledonian Stadium this afternoon and the manager believes his side are gradually getting up to speed following their goalless draw against SPL new boys Dundee at home in their league opener last week.
He said: “Last week’s game was typical of two teams who weren’t ready for it. It favoured them because it was so early in the season. We have sharpened things up since then but like most of the teams in the SPL we won’t be up to speed until September.”
The long trip to the Highlands is a journey that few teams in the central belt enjoy. Indeed, they are aware of the gripes and last year, after a defeat at Ibrox, Inverness manager Terry Butcher controversially insisted: “We do feel that we are not wanted in the SPL because we are up there, out of the way,” and Butcher has since said that the promotion of Highland rivals Ross County to the SPL, “would certainly get up the noses of people in the central belt”.
Yesterday, Shiels backed the way Butcher uses geography to gee up his Inverness side. “Inverness have great spirit and the players are committed to their manager,” added the Kilmarnock manager. “We know it is going to be a tough game and they have motivational tools, like saying ‘the central belt doesn’t like us and they don’t want us to be in the league’.
“I agree with him, I am not being critical, I am saying that it is great that he does that and so he should. He wouldn’t be doing his job if he didn’t.
“It is never an easy place to go, everybody keeps saying that. They get into you and make life difficult.
“They are good games against Inverness and hopefully we will get a good crowd on Saturday.”
Inverness, like Kilmarnock, had to settle for a point on the opening day last weekend. Despite putting in a decent performance in Paisley, they conceded an injury-time Darren McGregor goal in the 2-2 draw against St Mirren.