Joe was last resort but staked his case for a first-choice pick

Joe McKee received high praise from Peter Houston after his Bairns debut. Pic by Michael Gillen
Joe McKee received high praise from Peter Houston after his Bairns debut. Pic by Michael Gillen

Peter Houston swooped to sign Joe McKee in the last two hours of the January transfer window then pitched him straight into the derby-day cauldron against Dunfermline.

The midfielder did not let his new boss down with an excellent performance and Houston admits he was forced into selecting the 24-year-old after Mark Kerr pulled up with a hamstring strain in training last week.

With Fraser Aird on compassionate leave and Cameron Blues and Tom Taiwo still crocked, there was little option, but McKee showed he was anything other than a last resort.

The Bairns boss said: “ Joe McKee was outstanding on his debut. I’m pleased to get him onboard when I thought nothing more would be happening, and I give a lot of credit to the agent who made it happen. McKee is a boy I saw at Morton last season and stood out for them against Rangers as a good player.

“It was a huge risk to put him in from the start and he wouldn’t have had Mark Kerr not hurt his hamstring on Thursday and it became a case of needs must. We had no-one else. Young Cameron Blues

had an injury, Taiwo is injured and John Rankin was released to get a wide player in. I’d have had to have played someone out of position to cover had we not got Joe and I’ve got to credit his agent for working hard to get him for me, and Joe did the rest.”

The Bairns boss will have added midfield options for the weekend match with Dundee United, brought forward from a midweek date in March.

Fraser Aird should be back in the pool while Tom Taiwo has started running again after his lay-off. Cameron Blues also made his return for the development team this week. Mark Kerr remains a doubt and Joe McKee has picked up a knock but it’s not thought to be serious.