With the transfer window opening in Scotland on New Year’s Day, we look at where the other ten Ladbrokes Premiership clubs could look to strengthen...
The Dons have defenders Mark Reynolds, Michael Devlin and Tommie Hoban returning to fitness but will look to replace left-back Max Lowe after his loan spell from Derby ended. Manager Derek McInnes recently admitted they had paid the price for failing to buy a striker in the summer but all of his frontmen have since started scoring. However, an injury to Bruce Anderson has intensified the need to add an attacker.
McInnes said: “We lost Max Lowe to Derby but he has shown me the importance of having that type of full back at the club. We will try and look to bring in something similar.
“We have scored 16 goals in six games. So we are starting to find our shooting boots. But most managers will look at their attacking options and see if you they can bring in a player to make the difference. But they are always the hardest players to get.”
The champions’ central defence has been plagued by injuries and patchy form and Dedryck Boyata could be set to depart ahead of his contract expiring in the summer. Mikael Lustig’s deal is also entering the final six months and a right-back could come in. But up front is the main priority after Celtic failed to replace Moussa Dembele following his move to Lyon at the end of the summer transfer window. With Leigh Griffiths taking a break from football and Odsonne Edouard recently injured, Brendan Rodgers was left without a recognised striker.
Rodgers said: “The squad needs those reinforcements so we hope we can do that. We have always had a feeling of what we need, not just add to the squad but improve it.”
Saturday’s 2-0 defeat by St Johnstone highlighted the need for a major overhaul and Jim McIntyre has already told five of his squad they can leave if they find new clubs: Sofien Moussa, Elton Ngwatala, Kharl Madianga, Jean Mendy and Lewis Spence.
McIntyre said: “I think the break is going to be crucial for this football club. We need to make some additions to the squad. I have already mentioned how difficult the January window can be, it’s not easy to make the signings that you want, but I feel the squad needs a bit of freshness and we will try and do that. It will take as long as it takes but it’s important it’s players who have the right mentality, who are going to be up for a scrap because we are bottom of the league and we need to scrap for our lives.”
Accies are also deep in relegation danger and have a history of wheeling and dealing at this time of year, although it could be late in the month before things start happening given their budget constraints.
Manager Martin Canning said: “I need to add two or three senior heads but it is a difficult time of the season to find players who are fit. We can only afford free agents who will not have played much and we would need to spend some time to get them up to speed.”
Steve Clarke is fearful of the transfer window given likely interest in some of the players who have helped them reach the winter break just a point off top spot. Jordan Jones, whose contract expires at the end of the season, is sure to attract enquiries at least.
Clarke said: “How do you improve this group with no money? They will need to be very good players to break into this team. The biggest part for me in January will be keeping this group together. The board assure me that we don’t need to sell anyone in January.”
Gary Holt is another manager who might be anxiously counting down the days in January after Livi’s spectacular return to the top flight. Holt’s priority will be to extend Ryan Hardie’s loan move from Rangers after the striker netted five goals in six games following his comeback from injury.
Hot said: “We are always looking, searching far and wide to see who fits the criteria we are looking for. We are not stockpiling players for the sake of it. We want players who are hungry, and energetic to work.”
Stephen Robinson has some scope to bring players in with Andy Rose and Ryan Bowman moving on to pastures new. The club have made a bold bid to re-sign Ross McCormack on loan from Aston Villa but talks are at an early stage.
Robinson said: “We will have to do a bit of wheeling and dealing to get people in and out. I am very much aware of what I need to do. We lack someone who can go past people, we lack a creative touch in the final third, so we need to try to rectify that within our means. We have a lot of targets but we do need people to go out of the club first.”
Steven Gerrard accepts there won’t be major changes after bringing in 15 players already, but two loan players have departed early - midfielder Ovie Ejaria and forward Umar Sadiq. Rangers are lacking cover for Alfredo Morelos and Kyle Lafferty up front but Gerrard’s main aim will be to keep hold of the Colombian.
Gerrard said: “I think that at a club this size you can’t stand still. You need to keep striving to improve and grow in all areas of the pitch, myself included. We need to try and strengthen in certain areas so we won’t stand still and milk this moment.”
There is not much surgery needed for Tommy Wright’s squad but he may seek a creative player with Drey Wright injured and Stefan Scougall being allowed to move on.
Wright told the club’s official website: “January is funny because if you’re not doing well it gives you an opportunity to make changes but on the flip side when it’s going well you can be reluctant to do much to change things. However, if we can get someone in who can improve the squad then we’ll look to do it but it has to be the right fit for the team.”
The biggest changes are likely to be in Paisley after Alan Stubbs’ summer recruitment effectively got him the sack after 77 days in charge. Three of his loan signings returned early while Josh Heaton, Cole Kpekawa and Jeff King are among a number of players actively seeking new clubs. Oran Kearney will be desperate to hold on to two of his signings - Anton Ferdinand and Adam Hammill - as well as bringing in several others.
Kearney said: “We’ve got a squad of 28 in inverted commas, but at this point in time we’ve offloaded a couple already. There’s a few gone back down to England to look for clubs and we’re carrying about eight injuries. I don’t need unhappy players here. For the fight we’re going to enter into in the second part of the season we’re going to need players who are ready to go. I expect to do business the whole window so it’s going to be frantic.”