It was inevitable that he’d leave, but East Fife boss Gary Naysmith reckons the club got the very best out of Nathan Austin’s transfer to Falkirk.
The striker has turned heads all season and attracted a host of admirers thanks to his 17 goals.
In the end it was the Bairns who bit the bullet and made the Fifers an offer they were unable to turn down.
But Austin’s departure has been delayed, with Falkirk manager Peter Houston agreeing the striker could return on loan to Bayview until the end of the season.
As well as keeping their top scorer on their books, the loan deal also saves Naysmith from trying to find any sort of replacement for the prolific 21-year-old.
The manager said: “As a manager I wanted ‘Fash’ to get to a full-time club.
“He deserves that for how much he has improved.
“We want to develop players here and get them into full-time and he has won the move on the back of the last 18 months.
“We’re delighted with that but I said to the chairman that whoever you give him to it would be great if you could get him back, because how do you replace him?
“For me the biggest part is that I wanted him to go to the right club and I firmly believe he has.
“Peter Houston was my youth team coach at Hearts for two or three seasons.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that he’s joined the right club for the next stage of his career and I’m just delighted to get him back.”
Another player being nurtured by the Methil club is Jason Kerr, currently on loan from St Johnstone.
Kerr has been impressive at the back for the Fifers and on Saturday proved his worth up top, scoring the side’s third in an eventual 4-2 win over Annan.
His standard of performances in the black and goal are made all the more impressive given that Kerr is also still training with and playing for the Saints’ development side.
Kerr played 90 minutes for St Johnstone just a couple of days before Saturday’s fixture.
Naysmith added: “He played on Thursday against Celtic.
“I’ve been in constant contact with St Johnstone.
“We only get Jason on a Thursday which tends to be quite a light session so there was never any chance of us over doing it with him.
“He came through the game fine and did a recovery session on Friday.
“He told us he was fine to play so if he says he’s fine then he’s always going to play.
“You forget he’s only 18.
“He’s a fantastic talent and if he keeps playing away with us until the end of the season and goes back to St Johnstone I’ve no doubt he’ll be in their first team.
“He can play, is strong and quick and has everything you need in a modern day centre half.
“I’m disappointed we never got the clean sheet at Annan but over all , if you look at the second half, Annan probably deserved a couple of goals.”
The manager also reserved praise for Steven Campbell, who has been continuing his comeback from a series of injuries in recent weeks.
“In the second half in particular he won a lot of good headers and won a lot of the loose balls,” said the boss.
“He’s getting fitter and I think he’s getting better and better.
“We have to manage him but he’s doing great.”