Kilmarnock: Loan deals 'only way' to sign quality players, says Lee Clark

Lee Clark
Six of Kilmarnock boss Lee Clark's seven January signings were loan deals

Kilmarnock manager Lee Clark admits his January signing policy is short-termist but stressed loan deals were the only way he could attract players of the quality he wanted.

Clark brought in seven new players last month, six of whom are on loan.

He acknowledged that may mean another summer rebuild job but said financial limits prevented a longer-term outlook.

"It's not ideal but I have to get the best players I possibly can within those constraints," he said.

"We couldn't have touched four of their salaries that they're earning elsewhere.

"So it's us having the relationships and the contacts with those clubs to get the deals when they do become affordable to us."

Killie completed the loan addition of former striker Conor Sammon from Hearts on the final day of the window, alongside striker Joshua Umerah.

Those signings followed that of Celtic defender Kristoffer Ajer, who also moved to Rugby Park on loan until the end of the season, and the capture of three Newcastle United youngsters, all on loan.

The Ayrshire club also secured an 18-month deal for Scott Boyd following an initial loan spell from Ross County.

The other January addition to Clark's squad was 28-year-old defender Karleigh Osborne, who signed a two-year deal after leaving Plymouth.

"I have a budget to work to, to spread around to try to get us a competitive squad and that's the way it has to be done," Clark continued.

"In an ideal world I'd like every member of my first-team squad to be permanent signings so we're not having another summer like we had last year and when the loan lads go back, I'm not having to replace them."

Sean Longstaff scores for Kilmarnock against Ross County
Newcastle loanee Sean Longstaff earned Killie a dramatic late win over Ross County on Saturday

Despite the loss of top scorer Souleymane Coulibaly during January, Clark feels his squad is strong going into the final months of the season.

The manager feels the additions of Sammon and Umerah, to compete with Kris Boyd and Nathan Tyson up front, gives the club good depth.

"It was always my aim to get more competition in the striking areas," he added. "We feel we've brought two very good signings in.

"We've brought in an experienced player [in Sammon]. He's experienced generally but he also has experience of Scottish football."

In addition to the seven new players, Clark hopes to have Miles Addison and Greg Kiltie back from injury soon.

"You're looking at us then having four central defenders - three experienced ones in [Scott] Boyd, Osborne and Addison and one who's come in and hit the ground running and looks a very special talent in Kristoffer Ajer," Clark said.

"We've got four strikers, the young Newcastle lads have come in so we've got real competition in the goalkeeping area.

"Sean Longstaff has shown everybody what he can be - a very athletic midfield player who can get goals and we still feel there's a lot more to come from Callum Roberts. So we're excited by it all."

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