THERE were two requests made to speak to Billy McKay last week.
Only one was accepted, a bid made early on Saturday evening after the Inverness Caledonian Thistle striker began a new campaign by adhering to tradition. There had been a game of football and McKay scored in it.
That his club had given him permission to discuss his future with an interested party of pressmen was in deference to the goal scored against Hamilton Academical, rather than in receipt of a more attractive offer than that made by Fleetwood Town on Thursday.
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The Sky Bet League 1 club had been sufficiently impressed by the numbers produced by McKay - 22 goals scored last season, 27 the year before - but were unable to come up with one which convinced Inverness to grant them an audience with the 25-year-old. One can only speculate as to what fee might be adequate since Inverness' demands have so far been vague; any successful offer must first be "exceptional".
It is a suitable valuation for a player whose importance to his side is not measured in pounds sterling alone. McKay is the only recognised striker at the Highland club and a singular individual who has scored the goals which have established Inverness in the SPFL Premiership.
The club is bigger than the 5ft 9in Northern Irishman, of course, and any decision to sell would elicit a change of emphasis within a team that plays with the intention of providing McKay enough opportunities to score. The void left would still swallow up the biggest of Inverness' ambitions, though, and a place in the top six would be much more uncertain.
"I'm the only real striker on the books at the minute, so the club don't want to let me go," said McKay. "I'm happy here - I've got on to the international scene as well. I'm thankful to the club for that."
Inverness, too, will be appreciative of his willingness to stay, but the club will expect further offers to be made during both the current transfer window and in January. It has often seemed as though playing for Inverness is the equivalent of hiding in plain sight, given that the club have been able to hold on to some of their most compelling players for much longer than expected, with Graeme Shinnie another conspicuous example. He is just 23 and has made more than 100 appearances for the club, but it is easy to see him performing at a higher level.
Hamilton have elevated their company this season, although it may take time before they truly fit in. Inefficient defending marked them out most as a team that is finding its way in a new division, one which will find itself in Paisley on Wednesday for the second league match of the campaign. "I don't think you can judge us on that performance," said Michael McGovern, the Hamilton goalkeeper. "Having a game on Wednesday is a good thing for us."