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McLean's deep south dilemma

FOR the record, Kenny McLean is definitely not saying he is leaving St Mirren.

Unfortunately for the club's fans, his body language and all other non-verbal forms of communication seem to expressing something to the contrary.

Regardless of the unforeseen managerial changes taking place in Paisley this week, where assistant Tommy Craig succeeded Danny Lennon as manager, being in the 22-year-old's company as he celebrated his SPFL player of the month award for April was to meet a man eager to embrace a new chapter in his career, in all likelihood south of the border.

While there will be no grudges from either party whatever happens, an offer to stay on at St Mirren has been put in front of McLean and remains unsigned.

Chairman Stewart Gilmour has said it will stay there as long as he wants it, but knowing a move south would provide a windfall of around £300,000, around four or five times what they could expect from an SFA tribunal for a move within Scotland, he too feels the time could have come for McLean to move on.

Bournemouth, Eddie Howe's ambitious Championship outfit, already have one young Scot in their ranks in the form of former Aberdeen winger Ryan Fraser, and an offer to Mclean to join his Scotland Under-21 team-mate on the south coast is expected imminently.

"I have not spoken to any other clubs and I have not had any other offers," said the player, who is in Billy Stark's Under-21 squad for the meeting with Holland on May 28 and who already has 126 senior appearances under his belt.

"My time here has been great and I am not saying it is over yet. But I am very ambitious and I do want to play down south, I want to test myself. I want a new challenge somewhere along the line. Whether it is this year, or in years to come, it is something I definitely want to do. I am 22 now so maybe it is time for a new challenge but I will just have to wait and see what happens.

"If there are clubs down south that want me, I'm not just going to jump at the first chance I get," he added. "I'll need to have a long, hard think whether I am going to be playing. Is it the right club? Is it the right place to stay?

"Things like that will all come into my decision. Over the next few weeks I will speak to the people I trust - my agent, my family and stuff - and we will take it from there. I'm young so it's not all about money just now. If I go down for money I could be back up in a year or two. You speak to people who don't play and there are not happy."

Not playing is a pretty fair summary of the end of his time at Rangers as a teenager. He has been linked with a move back there, albeit to the Championship, this summer. "I supported Rangers as a boy but it wasn't the best experience when I was there," said McLean. "I didn't enjoy my whole time there and it didn't end too well. Whether I'd go back or not I really don't know."

One thing which won't influence his decision is the managerial changes at St Mirren Park, even if he didn't see it all coming. "I spoke to Danny and he thanked me for everything I have done for him, but I owe a lot to him. He gave me the opportunity to play here, my first chance of first-team football, and he really stood by me."

The picture for the new coaching team should become clearer in the next week, with Paul McGowan and Darren McGregor just two others whose contracts are due to expire.

Even assistant Jim Goodwin spent last week fretting about whether he was getting kept on, prior to being summoned to the club on Tuesday lunchtime. His promotion will put an onus on him to maintain his discipline.

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