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Transfer stories begin once club gets comfortable

KENNY McLEAN can probably afford to be picky.

Kenny McLean has shown consistency for St Mirren of late and is expected to receive offers from clubs throughout the English game. Picture: SNS
Kenny McLean has shown consistency for St Mirren of late and is expected to receive offers from clubs throughout the English game. Picture: SNS

"I didn't have any signing talks with Chelsea - they are out of the Champions League so I don't want to go there," he says, a mischievous grin spreading across his face.

The St Mirren midfielder is out of contract in the summer and likely to be a player in demand. A Chelsea supporter, he was among the crowd at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night for the second leg of the Champions League semi-final tie against Atletico Madrid. If there was some disappointment at the result, then it was offset by his senses tingling at the prospect of him one day strutting across the turf at some of England's finest stadia.

McLean is reluctant to talk too much about his own situation while St Mirren still remain in danger of relegation but a summer departure from the club he joined as a 14-year-old seems a near certainty, something even his manager has confirmed. Rangers and Aberdeen are thought to be interested in the player but it is towards England that his sights are set. The size of clubs said to be scouting him has ranged from Everton and Tottenham Hotspur in the Barclays Premier League down to others in the Sky Bet Championship and League One, and McLean revealed he would not be rushed into taking the first offer that comes his way.

"England is very appealing," he said. "You see a lot of boys going down there but I think the move has to be right. Some boys have gone down where it has not quite worked out but England is where I want to go in the long term.

"Some players take the first club and it is not always going to work out perfectly. You see boys going down there and they are back up within a year. You need to think about your future a lot if you are going to take that next step.

"It is very flattering to be linked with these clubs but I try and distract myself from that. I am getting asked what is happening but nothing is secure and I just want to be safe with St Mirren. After we are safe, then I can think about what I will do next season."

McLean has always been something of an inconsistent performer but has shown greater stability in recent games, scoring in St Mirren's last three outings. If he is still guilty of occasionally trying to do too much on the ball, then it is merely a symptom of a player bursting with self-assurance.

"Confidence is a massive thing and when the manager puts his faith in me then it gives me a real lift," added the 22-year-old. "I started the season pretty well but then I had injuries. Now, I am playing well again and I am scoring goals."

St Mirren will look to McLean to produce again in today's home match against Ross County. A win would effectively ensure top-flight football in Paisley for a ninth successive season.

"Everyone is talking about the drop but we are in seventh position. We can win these last three games and I am very confident of that. We need to go into these games like we have been doing while we have had this good run. We are in pole position so it is ours to lose.

"This game against Ross County is another big one then that will put us in good stead to finish in seventh place if we win that."

That ambition is seen clearly from St Mirren's spot in the table. The view becomes clouded by greater uncertainty nearer the bottom of the league, with County not yet able to look beyond their very next game. Derek Adams, manager of the Dingwall side, has sought to use his side's form as a guide to where they will end up this season - he is encouraged by a sequence of just five defeats in 17 matches - while Melvin De Leeuw has found greater worth in looking back.

The Dutchman was a member of the RBC Roosendaal side which only just staved off relegation in Eerste Divisie in 2011, despite having three points deducted in the final weeks of the season for entering administration. It took a win on the final day of the season to confirm that the club had beaten the drop.

"At my first club before I moved to SC Cambuur, we were hit by a three-point deduction just before the last game," said De Leeuw. "The club had hit financial problems and all of a sudden we were back in danger. Before that we were safe, then we were back second bottom so we needed to readjust mentally and go through it all again.

"We needed to win to be safe. And we did. It took a lot of spirit and character for the players to switch on again for that final game and make sure they dug the club out of the hole.

"Sadly, the club still went bankrupt in the summer which was a great shame. But for us as players, and for the fans, it was good that we won the game - a great memory for me. It is something I can draw on in the current situation Ross County are in."

A defeat this afternoon could force the Highland club back into the play-off position - should Kilmarnock win tomorrow, at least - but their Dutch forward is adamant his side are strong enough to stay up.

"As a group, we are strong-minded and experienced. We have a lot of confidence," he added.

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