BY IAIN COLLIN – @CCP_sport
Ray McKinnon has backed Jon Daly to prove the ‘ultimate professional’ as he sees out his contract with Raith Rovers ahead of January’s move to Hearts.
Daly last week accepted the chance to team up again with his former Dundee United boss, Craig Levein, at Tynecastle as the Jambos’ new under-20s coach.
It is an earlier-than-expected move into coaching for Daly, who will hang up his boots as a first-team player when his deal at Stark’s Park expires in the New Year.
The Dubliner joined Rovers in August after being released by Rangers at the end of last season and has worked his way back to fitness in 12 appearances for the Championship side.
McKinnon had been hopeful of retaining the services of the ex-Stockport County and Hartlepool marksman for the remainder of the campaign but admits the Hearts post is a ‘great opportunity’.
And the Raith boss is convinced there will be no difference in Daly’s on-field play between now and his departure as the Irishman seeks to finish his spell at the club on a high.
McKinnon said: “It is so disappointing for me and the club as we have brought him in, he has got himself fit, we have given him the platform to play and he is really starting to do that well.
“He could have had a few more years playing but he has had to make the big decision to give up.
“Any football player will tell you that they wished they could play for as long as possible so it is a huge decision for Jon.
“He has obviously given it a lot of thought and I respect that but it does leave us very short.
“It is a huge blow for our club but at the same time we realise it is great opportunity for him.
“I am certain between now and January, he will continue to be the ultimate professional.”