Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes insists he had been working to find a replacement for Sam Cosgrove long before Birmingham City moved to sign the striker.
Top scorer for the Dons in the previous two seasons, Cosgrove has joined the Championship outfit in a £2 million transfer.
With Curtis Main out with a thigh injury, McInnes played winger Connor McLennan in the No 9 striker role in the 0-0 draw at Livingston.
It was Aberdeen’s second goalless draw in four days.
After “working round the clock” to find a goalscorer, the Reds have reached an agreement with French side Reims to take Scotland U21 international Fraser Hornby on loan until the end of the season with the deal expected to be confirmed today.
Hornby, 21, was signed in the summer by Reims in a £1.7m deal from Premier League side Everton.
McInnes said: “The situation with Sam didn’t just drop on us as we knew there was a real chance of that happening.
“We had been working hard for a period of time to try to be ready to bring in a striker.
“We were working round the clock to do that and made a lot of phone calls, inquiries and ran up a few cul-de-sacs.
“On Friday, I spent a lot more time on that than I did on the game because we were all under that pressure.
“Against Livingston, we were screaming out for someone to finish off the work and were kicking ourselves we did not take those opportunities.
“We needed to do good work as a club to bring the level of player in who could help in games such as Livingston and St Johnstone (0-0) to turn one point into three.
“It was a critical situation to try to rectify that.”
As Aberdeen suffered a second stalemate, Cosgrove was in Birmingham finalising his move.
The Dons boss paid tribute to the departing striker, who completed his move to the Blues yesterday.
He said: “We wish Sam well. He’s been a good servant to us, but we felt it was the right time for him to move on, on the back of the offer we received, and with 18 months left on his contract.
“The improvement in Sam since he arrived is clear for all to see and I’ve no doubt he will go on and do well at Birmingham.
“We have benefited greatly from his goals and overall contribution to the team and we wish him all the best in the future.”
McInnes said sourcing a goalscorer in January is tough unless you have cash to splash.
Aberdeen, who are haemorrhaging millions due to the Covid-19 crisis, don’t – which is why McInnes turned to the loan market in the hunt for a striker.
He said: “The January window is traditionally so hard to bring number nines in. It is not easy.
“Unless you are spending money for a nine in January, like Birmingham spending big money on Sam, you very rarely get what you want.”
A £30,000 signing from Carlisle in January 2018, the gamble on an unknown Cosgrove paid off for McInnes as he netted 23 goals last season and 21 in 2018-19.
McInnes also believed it was vital the attacking void left by Marley Watkins’ exit was filled.
Bristol City’s Watkins made a major impact during a loan spell in the first half of the season before suffering a hamstring injury that cut short his time at Pittodrie.
McInnes said: “It was clear we need to be far more potent at the top end of the pitch.
“I felt that since Marley left us as he lined up our attacking play and brought others into it.
“He might not have scored all the goals, but he made us score more goals.
“We were looking for someone to lead the line for us to be a bit of that and also carry that threat.”
Connor McLennan led the line at the Tony Macaroni Arena and hit the crossbar with a header.
McInnes said: “Playing without a traditional number nine was always going to be a challenge, but I thought Connor led the line well.
“He had some good moments in the game and hit the bar. However, the team needed a bit of help at the top end of the pitch.”