Derek McInnes admits Josh Fowler was a pleasure to work with – but he won’t be getting a deal at Kilmarnock. 

The Beith Juniors striker spent a week on trial with the Rugby Park outfit recently on the club’s pre-season trip to Northern Ireland. 

The 21-year-old had previously been with Motherwell to show Stuart Kettlewell and his backroom staff what he could do, but upon the end of his trial, there was an invitation to travel to Belfast with Killie. 

McInnes was impressed with the forward’s confidence, which is little wonder after scoring 32 goals in all competitions on the way to Beith’s West of Scotland Premier League title success last season. 

However, the Killie boss conceded that while the priority is to improve his starting XI ahead of the Premiership campaign, a contract offer for Fowler at this time didn’t add up.  

“I took a call from his agent,” McInnes explained when asked how the situation came about. “He’d been in at Motherwell and went to Holland with them. He asked if there was an interest. I didn’t know a lot about Josh with him playing in the juniors. I was aware he’d had a good season. We gave him the invitation as we’ve got injuries, so there was an opportunity to go to Ireland to get a good look at him.  

“I really liked the kid I thought he was really confident. He looked like a boy that had scored a lot of goals last season. He had a bit of bite about him, an edge to him. He worked extremely hard.   

“We’re trying to sign players predominantly that are going to make our starting XI better. There might have been a different view of it if it had been later in the window. I think Josh will get good opportunities and will find a good level.   

“For what we need though, we’re looking to bring players in that’s going to improve our first team. He was terrific, though, and I enjoyed working with him.” 

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Killie have signed seven players so far this summer, after seeing 15 in total leaving at the end of last term.  

Matty Kennedy, Corrie Ndaba, Kyle Magennis, Will Dennis, Kieran O’Hara, Robbie Deas, and Stuart Findlay have all joined to bolster McInnes’ ranks, with the aim of having a tilt at the top six in the year ahead.  

McInnes expects to see another five inbound. He added: “The season started at the weekend but in terms of when the window closes, five more signings potentially.   

“The forward areas will be key. We’re working around the clock to get the best forwards that we can. We could easily have signed forwards by now and made us feel good about ourselves short term, but we’re trying to get the best ones possible.   

“It may pay dividends, it may not, but we’re working hard and the board has been really supportive to help us put a squad together that will help us meet the demands this season.   

“Number nines and other forwards are always the most difficult. Everyone is looking for them. Very few number nines go out of contract. Clubs usually do their best to keep them, making it more challenging.   

“We know that English clubs are now back, so when things start to move and clubs start to get their signings in, they’ll be one or two who maybe become available.   

“We’re having lots of conversations and feel that we’re in the fight a lot more for players than last year. It’s important that off the back of a good year this season we can be in the fight even more going forward.  

“We’ve still not quite got the balance that we want. People might think it’s a bit unusual wanting another left-sided defender in. But sometimes you just need to get the right ones when you can. If we hadn’t moved we’d have lost out on Stuart.  

“The priority at this time is to try to bring in forwards, while also looking at other areas.”