Birmingham City may not want Greg Stewart, but Steve Clarke is keen to keep the in-form frontman at Kilmarnock for the long term. The former Dundee forward has rediscovered his best form since making a season-long loan switch to Rugby Park in the summer.
But the impressive displays that have seen him net eight goals in 13 games for Clarke’s side has left some among the Killie faithful fearing his parent club may decide to whisk him back to St Andrew’s.
However, a relieved Clarke has confirmed Birmingham have given no indication that Stewart will be required back in the Midlands during next month’s transfer window.
Instead, he says it will be the 28-year-old – whose contract expires in the summer – who will call the shots on his future.
“Greg’s happy and we’re happy,” Clarke said. “I don’t think Birmingham want him back as far as I know. They’ve certainly given us no indication they want him back down south. His contract is up in the summer, so he’s in a great position. He’s done really well for himself, he’s done well for Kilmarnock and we’re delighted with him. We’re looking forward to having him for the rest of the season.”
Asked if a longer-term arrangement in Ayrshire was a possibility for Stewart, Clarke replied: “If it’s something we could do then we’d do it – but Greg holds all the aces.
“It’s not about persuading him to stay. People look too far ahead sometimes in football. He’s enjoying himself and his football here. He’s found a nice place to come back and find his form. He’s doing great. We’re happy with him and I know he’s happy with us. Short-term that’s the best solution for everybody.”
However, the decision over Jordan Jones’ whereabouts during the second half of the campaign does lie with Clarke. The winger, who is approaching the final six months of his Killie deal, has been tipped by former manager Lee McCulloch as the solution to Rangers’ current lack of cutting edge, but Clarke is ready to rebuff any interest in the Northern Ireland international.
He said: “We’re in a good position here, we don’t have to sell anybody. If I can keep the squad together then I’ll be delighted. If we can do that we can have a decent second half of the season together.”
Killie continue to jostle with the Old Firm for the lead in the Premiership, with table-toppers Celtic just two points and a game in hand better off. But Clarke admits his side cannot afford a slip-up against Hamilton today if they want to keep pace with the Glasgow giants.
“If we’re going to stay where we are in the table we’re going to have to take maximum points almost every week otherwise we’ll start to slip down,” he said.
Midfielder Scott Martin returns from suspension for Hamilton.