Former St Johnstone manager Derek McInnes is ‘surprised and disappointed’ that Ali McCann did not stay in Scotland amid Celtic interest after moving to Preston – but the midfielder will cope with a big move a south.

The Northern Ireland international has moved south of the border for a fee of around £1.2 million plus add-ons. Celtic contemplated a Deadline Day move for McCann after two previous scouting missions and McInnes says he’d have liked to have seen McCann stay in Scotland. St Johnstone also lost captain Jason Kerr to Wigan.

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Celtic plotted a move. (Photo by Stanislav Vedmid/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)

He said (DM): “Last season, Callum Davidson created history by leading the club to League and Scottish Cup victories. Jason Kerr and Ali McCann were his two best players — the captain and heartbeat of the team respectively.

The St Johnstone fans have gone from celebrating a season of highs to waking up on Wednesday morning knowing both had gone. Kerr was moving into the last year of his contract, hence the board’s decision to accept Wigan’s £600,000 deadline-day offer.

“But if McCann has gone for the money that is reported — £1million with a sell-on fee — then Preston have got a steal. McCann lacks a bit of finesse and quality with his final pass and he could probably score more goals, but he has everything else.

“I have played and managed in the English Championship and he will deal with that fine. I am just surprised and disappointed that neither player has stayed in the Scottish league. McCann would have been an easy one for Celtic or Rangers to take and such a hard one for Callum to replace.”

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