This piece is an extract from yesterday's The Rugby Road Gates newsletter, which is emailed out at 6pm every Wednesday. To receive our full, free Kilmarnock newsletter straight to your email inbox, click here.

The only topic to focus on over the last few weeks has been Europe. Given the extent of my coverage there, I think it’s time to move on for the time being before drumming up excitement ahead of Thursday, July 25 later this month.

Derek McInnes spoke to Lochlin on Killie’s official club channels on Tuesday in a wide-ranging interview. The gaffer was certainly open and honest about a variety of things – something the fans no doubt appreciate at this especially quiet period of the year.

The Marbella trip was assessed, the impact of young players such as Ben Brannan and Cole Burke was touched upon, as was the potential of Corrie Ndaba returning on a permanent deal after last week’s story seemingly confirming it was all but done. Of course, we now know this was premature.

The main takeaway from the interview though, or what jumped out to me at least, was the very deliberate mention of Danny Armstrong. McInnes intentionally raised his contract situation, with less than 12 months to go on his current deal now. Reading between the lines, as others have quite rightly pointed out, it seemed like clever management by McInnes as he let it be known publicly that people shouldn’t expect the 26-year-old to sign up to improved terms.

“It’s ongoing,” the 52-year-old said in terms of general contract talks. “I think it’s something we’ve been better at recently as a club. It’s something that I wanted us to be better at – trying to secure more players longer-term. Trying to get a bit more stability, security and certainty with things rather than too many changes year in, year out. I don’t think that’s a good thing for a club. There’s a time when it needs it, but on the back of last season we wanted to try to retain the core of what we had. So, even with boys who are into their last year, we’re constantly trying to try to get those improvements and get those boys tied down. Danny’s a case in point. With Danny, we’ve been trying for the last six or seven months to get an agreement where he can sign a bit longer. The reality is it’s going to be difficult to do that, I think. Danny’s into his last year now, which is not a situation anybody at the club wants. We’ve tried hard to try to avoid that situation. All of these things are ongoing. We’re trying to keep good players within the club as well as trying to attract good players from out with. It’s a constant battle, to be honest. While the players are with us, like Danny, he’s got a lot to offer us. We don’t just want to let players walk out of the door cheaply. He’s such a key player for us, and we’ve got Europe to look forward to, but we see the importance of trying to get that longer-term stability for our players. We’re looking to try bring in another couple. The forward areas are settled down now with Marley [Watkins] re-signing. We still need to bring in a goalkeeper to have that real competition, and defensively we’re still looking to try to add.”

If we compare those quotes to what he said about the subject – that he voluntarily raised at his press conference prior to the penultimate game of last season – the tone has changed drastically.

On Tuesday, May 14, McInnes said: “I’m not saying I’m optimistic, I’m hopeful. We’ve had some positive talks. I always feel if the player wants to stay, then the manager and club are trying hard to make it happen. Hopefully, there’s enough goodwill there that he wants to hang about a bit longer. I understand that, with a year to go, and the numbers and attention he’s had, there will be other people looking at him. But he is our player – we don’t need to do anything this summer. It’s a big year ahead for us, so hopefully we can reach an agreement but we’re not there yet, clearly.”

Read more: 

Here is what Danny himself had to say that same day: “It’s important to look after yourself, it’s a great place to be, full of unbelievable people. There’s no rush, I’m still under contract. I love this club. We’ve always been in light discussions about whether Kilmarnock wants to tie me down here even longer. I feel people will expect that. It’s a great feeling knowing that your club wants to extend your contract. If there can be some sort of agreement that can be done then it’s something I will look at.”

Unfortunately, it seems increasingly likely that an agreement between the club, Danny and his representatives is not going to be reached, and so, the club risks losing him for free next summer, and he’ll be free to sign a pre-contract elsewhere in January. That’s a situation that McInnes and others in power at the club will be desperately trying to avoid.

So, if McInnes’ most recent comments about Danny are indeed an attempt to raise the levels of interest in the player, then I think that’s got to be commended, all things considered. He’s an experienced manager and will have dealt with these situations countless times. I think as fans we should all remain mindful of that. Ideally, we’ll get the £1m the club desires for his services. However, with Danny’s contract situation, lowball offers should be anticipated. That doesn’t mean Killie must accept them though, as he’ll be worth more to keep for another season than, for example, £500,000.

If and when Danny does move on to pasture new, he will be wished all the best by everyone associated I’m sure. He’s been great for Killie, and likewise the club has been great for him. With a baby on the way, and given his age, nobody could decry him the opportunity to make as much money as possible out of the game and reach the highest level he can.

That said, fingers crossed not all hope is lost regarding a new contract yet!