Stuart Kettlewell refused to hide his disappointment at missing out on bringing Kevin van Veen back to Motherwell – but believes the goalscoring form of Theo Bair can help soften the blow.
Bair netted his fifth goal in his last five Premiership appearances to earn the Steelmen a throughly deserved share of the spoils in a 1-1 draw against Kilmarnock.
Much of the pre-match chat surrounded Van Veen making his return to Fir Park in the blue and white of Killie.
The Dutchman, who netted 29 times last season for Well, began the game as a substitute.
“Everybody knows the relationship Kevin van Veen has with the football club and the ridiculous numbers he posted last season,” said Kettlewell.
“There is disappointment but I think it just shows where things are – that performance today probably tells everybody that I undoubtedly wanted to bring Kevin van Veen to this football club.
“We were blown out the water by the likes of Kilmarnock and I believe St Mirren were involved in that as well – that’s not for me to try make anybody feel sorry, that’s simply a scenario that was dealt in front of us.
“Our guy that led the line for us was pretty decent himself. Big Theo is getting better and better and he is my player, Kevin is not – I’ll continue to focus on him.”
The January transfer window was to be a frustrating one for Motherwell, and in the end, their attempts to bolster their striking options proved to be futile.
Mika Biereth and Conor Wilkinson both headed for the Fir Park exit door, leaving Bair as the club’s only fit senior striker.
Kettlewell will now assess the free transfer options available to him, as he looks to steer his 10th-placed side clear of the relegation zone.
“We’ll analyse that and see if there’s a situation that could help our group and strengthen our group,” he added.
“As it sits just now, there’s nothing to tell – we’re always trying be pro-active contrary to sometimes what people think.
“We’re always looking to see if we can bring in anybody that improves our squad, if the answer to that is no then fine.
“Whether that comes down to money, whether that comes down to willingness to play at this football club – the one thing I’ll say to you is that every single player that is sat there as part of my group moving forward wants to be here and play here.”
Derek McInnes admits it will take time for his new signings to be fully match fit, though he is sure they have the ability to make the difference as Killie push for a European place.
Van Veen and Greg Stewart both came off the bench as Killie were pegged back to draw, having led through Lewis Mayo’s volley.
“These boys aren’t quite up to speed, we have to be realistic and understanding of that,” he said.
“Kevin hasn’t played, he told me November but I think it was actually October.
“He’s been training a lot on his own, being fit and being game fit is different.
“Our biggest strength this season has been the collective – it’s about the team but the individuals can be the difference and the ones to turn tight games.”