On-loan City striker Ryan Jarvis has landed himself one of the toughest jobs in Scottish football – stepping into the shoes of Rugby Park favourite Steven Naismith.
The 20-year-old Scottish international striker finally joined Rangers in an eleventh hour switch last week as Kilmarnock's summer-long resistance finally ended once a ?1.9 million cheque was wafted in front of their nose late on transfer deadline day.
Having reportedly rejected four seperate bids for their home-grown star, once Naismith rejected a new deal at Rugby Park and Rangers came back a-calling, so Killie were dragged back to the table and the long-running saga ended shortly before midnight on August 31.
Manager Jim Jefferies might now have the better part of ?1 million lodged in the bank courtesy of the up-front aspect to the Rangers deal, but with the transfer window now slammed shut and his star youngster gone he needs someone to score goals if the Ayrshire club are to maintain their prized Scottish Premier League status.
He needs a new Steven Naismith, whose 114 Killie appearances had yielded 35 goals before his boyhood heroes came for his services. Last Saturday's home clash with Aberdeen was Killie's first minus Naismith – they lost 1-0.
“You just have to get on with it – that's what happens at a club like this,” Jefferies told the Scotsman newspaper this week.
“It was the same at Hearts, when I had to sell the likes of Neil McCann and Colin Cameron. It's my job now, with nothing to spend, to find another Steven Naismith.”
One answer may lie with ex-Queen Of The South winger Willie Gibson. The 23-year-old is now expected to get an extended run in the side and, like Jefferies, is all too aware of the need for someone, somewhere, to fill Naismith's shoes.
“There is more pressure on the front players already,” said Gibson, again speaking to The Scotsman newspaper this week.
“Now that Steven has gone, everybody is asking who is going to score our goals.
“But we have midfielders who can score and even the centre-backs are quite capable of scoring; hopefully it will become a team performance rather than us relying on one person to replace Steven.”
The other answer may, of course, lie at the feet of Jarvis. That he has goals in him has never been in much doubt; getting a consistent run of games under his belt has always been his downfall. Something, somehow, always managed to get in the way.
“I'm just enjoying being back involved in a squad and playing some competitive games,” Jarvis, told City's official website as he starts to settle into life north of the border.
There is little doubt that a huge opportunity now knocks. As City boss Peter Grant pointed out on his departure, Anthony Stokes' loan switch to Falkirk last season was the making of the young Arsenal striker as a player. Certainly financially.
For on the back of his 16 goals in 18 Falkirk appearances, so Black Cats' boss Roy Keane swooped last January with a ?2 milion cheque for Arsenal and an eye-watering contract at the Stadium of Light for the youngster.
That's the way it can work.
Thus far, and Jarvis has yet to find the net in a 3-0 Scottish League Cup success away against a distant Peterhead – in which Naismith bagged his final goal in Killie colours – and an hour-long effort against Aberdeen on Saturday which saw a flicked header fall just wide. He does, however, appear to be settling into his new surroundings under one-time Bradford City boss Jefferies.
“The training is really quick, the games are really quick and it's a battle. And I'm just enjoying having a battle,” said Jarvis.
“The football is really good. People say it's not as good as English football, but most of the games are on a level par with the Championship and I'm really enjoying it at the moment.”
You sense it might be a step up again from his loan spell at Leyton Orient last season that yielded six goals from his 14 starts for the Brisbane Road side. In fairness to the former England Youth international, his ten Norwich starts thus far have produced five goals – one in two, when he starts.
Certainly, people aren't going to be taking prisoners north of the border – not at Peterhead on a mid-week night.
“A lot of the defenders are very strong and they battle very hard,” he said. “And they're also athletes ? they're very quick and the tempo doesn't die down and you've got to have the fitness to carry on throughout the whole game, and not just at one pace either. It's very quick.”
His next target his his first strike in Scottish football – Naismith's exit ought to have made his life slightly easier selection-wise.
“I started the last two games and feel I've done alright. I've settled in well. I just want to improve on the performances now and get some goals under my belt,” Jarvis told the official site.
“At the moment I just want to make an impression and start every game,” he added, not taking anything for granted.
“They have got a good squad and I'm not guaranteed a starting place up there. I just want to be involved in every game, start as many as I can and score as many goals as I can.”
And, ideally, be the new Steven Naismith…