Livingston transfer window latest as David Martindale makes squad claim and budget admission

David Martindale reckons he now has the strongest squad he has ever had in his time at Livingston, but admitted there could be a couple of departures to “balance the books” before the January window closes next week.

Looking ahead to Sunday’s Premiership clash with Hearts in West Lothian, Martindale also hinted that star striker Joel Nouble has an outside chance of being available again after injury but doesn’t foresee any more new arrivals following the acquisitions of winger Steven Bradlay from Hibs and Dominican Republic international defender Luiyi de Lucas.

The club need to find an extra £200,000 to help pay for the introduction of VAR and for repayments towards the loan received from the Scottish Government during the Covid-19 pandemic.

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“We probably need to balance the books a little bit,” Martindale told Sky Sports. “There’s two or three who probably need to move on to get some more game time for their own career development, but if your phone goes and there’s an offer you can’t refuse then I’ll maybe look at it again, but at this point in time I’m more than happy with what we have in the changing room.”

So happy, in fact, that Martindale thinks his current squad is the best he’s had in Livingston’s three-and-a-half-year stay in the Premiership. It is reflected in their season so far. Livi are just seven points behind third-placed Hearts with a game in hand. They are unbeaten this year with three wins and a draw in all competitions.

“I think it is the best squad we have had in terms of the numbers,” said Martindale. “We’ve got quality and depth this season, so we have a great squad. You need a bit of luck in terms of suspensions and injuries and you don’t know what could happen. But this is definitely the strongest group of players I’ve had collectively as a group in the Premiership.

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“We’re still missing a couple of key players. Joel Nouble will not be a million miles away. He has been a huge miss for us. But the boys have stepped up. We’re unbeaten in four and have won our last two on the road, so we are in good form. Consistency is probably the one thing we have added this year.”

Martindale isn’t thinking too much about the opportunity to close the gap on Hearts above. His team won the previous meeting earlier this season at the Tony Macaroni when Hearts boss Robbie Neilson was juggling the demands on Europe and league fixtures. Hearts are in a very different place now.

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Livingston manager David Martindale anticipates the possible departure of two or three fringe players before the January transfer window closes. Picture: Paul Devlin / SNS

“They are the third best team in Scotland, for me,” Martindale added. “Robbie doesn’t have Europe to contend with any more, so they are on a week-to-week basis like the rest of us. It will be a difficult game. They have recruited well again during this window.”

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He added: “I don’t really look too much into [the league table] at this point in time. All I’m looking at is trying to pick up three points on a Saturday and seeing where it takes us.

“When you are hitting matchday 31, 32 and 33, that’s when you are looking at it in a more detail. This is just another game where we can potentially pick up three points.”