A round-up of where every Scottish top-flight side stands ahead of a vital transfer window for some
There will be plenty to play for when the Scottish Premiership resumes in mid-January, with teams battling for the title, European places, top-six spots and to ease their relegation concerns.
The transfer window opens in Scotland on New Year’s Day and offers a chance for every club to improve their squad for the second half of the campaign. Here, we take a look at what activity may take place over the coming month throughout the division.
Matty Longstaff’s unsuccessful loan deal from Newcastle has already been cut short and Wolves’ Austin Samuels and Brighton’s Teddy Jenks may also be sent back to their parent clubs after struggling to make an impact at Pittodrie.
Manager Stephen Glass said: “As was the case with Matty, they will be looked at in the window by the parent club and ourselves. We have decisions to make on what is best for the clubs and the players.”
Key trio Ryan Hedges, Calvin Ramsay and Lewis Ferguson are all likely to attract interest.
Glass added: “There’s a danger we could be weakened by players going but we need to be ready to strengthen.”
The Dons have been linked with moves for their former captain Graeme Shinnie, who is currently at Derby, and St Mirren midfielder Jamie McGrath.
A busy month is expected at Celtic Park as Ange Postecoglou looks to try to enhance his team’s title prospects for the second half of the season.
Deals have reportedly already agreed to bring in Japanese trio Daizen Maeda, Reo Hatate and Yosuke Ideguchi, while Celtic have been linked with a host of other players, including Dundee United midfielder Jeando Fuchs, AZ Alkmaar winger Albert Gudmundsson and Barnsley left-back Callum Styles.
Celtic could also move to make the loan deals of Jota and Cameron Carter-Vickers permanent with Benfica and Tottenham respectively.
Vasilios Barkas and Boli Bolingoli are among those who have struggled to command game time and could be offloaded.
James McPake has already described this as a “vital” transfer window for Dundee as he looks to ease his team’s relegation worries.
The manager revealed just before Christmas that work was well under way with regard to “pre-contracts and loans and whatnot” before adding that he anticipated “a busy January”.
Defensive reinforcements are likely given that Dundee have conceded more goals than any other team in the Premiership.
Striker Jason Cummings, who has been linked with a move to Australia, is likely to depart after incurring the wrath of McPake over a recent disciplinary issue, while Christie Elliott and Corey Panter have both struggled to command game time.
Tony Watt has agreed a pre-contract to move to Tannadice from Motherwell in the summer but it remains to be seen if any effort will be made to bring the striker in earlier than that.
With United one of the lowest scorers in the league, manager Tam Courts said he wants to recruit an attacker with an element of X-factor in January.
He said: “We want someone at the top end of the pitch to excite the fans, really help the team and maybe add a different type of profile up there.”
Benjamin Siegrist and Jeando Fuchs, who are due to become free agents at the end of the season, are expected to attract interest but Courts said: “If any of the bigger-name players do end up being sold, we have the back-ups in place to get through that, but I am confident that nobody we don’t want to leave will go in January.”
Robbie Neilson is keen to add a couple of new faces to his high-flying squad and the club have already announced the imminent arrival of Australian right-back Nathaniel Atkinson.
The manager’s priority is to add another striker to take the pressure off top scorer Liam Boyce, with back-up attacker Armand Gnanduillet out of favour and free to leave if he can find a new club.
Hearts have been linked with Japanese attacker Tsuyoshi Ogashiwa. John Souttar is one of several key players now free to negotiate a pre-contract away from Tynecastle and it remains to be seen if the club will opt to cash in on him this month or keep him until his deal expires at the end of the season.
Shaun Maloney is not anticipating a significant influx at Easter Road, with the new manager keen to give those already at the club the chance to prove their worth.
However, there are one or two positions in which he would like to strengthen.
He said: “I said at the start I would prioritise what’s in the building, although I do think we are light in certain positions. There is a tough schedule coming up when we get back playing, so we will look at one or two areas of the team. We will look at what we already have because we will need everyone at some point. I can’t see lots of players coming in, but we will assess it.”
Talisman Martin Boyle was recently linked with interest from Saudi Arabia, while Ryan Porteous, Kevin Nisbet and Josh Doig are others who have been the subject of bids in recent transfer windows.
Scott Allan and Drey Wright almost joined St Mirren in the summer and were both on the periphery under previous boss Jack Ross, but they have featured more prominently in Maloney’s opening games.
Manager David Martindale aims to refresh his squad in January, although he admits his plans may depend on good news from the Scottish Government after the initial three-week curbs on crowds come to an end.
The Livi boss said earlier this week: “We are probably looking at bringing in two or three faces and there’s probably going to be two or three faces leaving the building also.
It’s difficult, especially when the chairman and chief executive don’t know when fans are going to be back in the stadium and you are trying to work on your budgets.
But I think the signs are encouraging and hopefully we can see fans back in the stadium, which is going to help myself get new faces in the building.”
Midfielder Ben Williamson’s loan stint from Rangers could be cut short, while striker Joel Nouble is set to return to the Lions following his loan at Arbroath. Livingston have been linked with out-of-favour Hearts attacker Jamie Walker.
The Fir Park club have already confirmed that 20-year-old Irish midfielder Ross Tierney will arrive on a three-and-a-half-year contract.
Top scorer Tony Watt has agreed a pre-contract with Dundee United but it remains to be seen if the Tannadice club will attempt to land the striker in the January window.
Jordan Roberts’ loan from Hearts is due to expire in the coming weeks, with the winger having started only three games under Graham Alexander this term.
Giovanni van Bronckhorst wants to ensure Rangers do not end January with a smaller squad.
The likes of Joe Aribo and Nathan Patterson have been linked with Premier League clubs, while Connor Goldson is free to talk to other teams and Alfredo Morelos is entering the final 18 months of his contract having never hidden his intention to move on.
Fringe players Brandon Barker, Jermain Defoe and Jack Simpson have rarely featured this term.
Previous manager Steven Gerrard stressed he had not been given money to spend in recent transfer windows, so any incomings could depend on players leaving, but Van Bronckhorst is keen to keep his numbers up – whatever transpires.
He said: “I don’t expect anything, we just have to be prepared. Maybe nothing happens, maybe a lot happens, I don’t know, we will see in the end where we are as a club. But as a coach you don’t want to end the window and have a smaller squad than you started.”
Manager Malky Mackay has no intention of adding “squad fillers” in January but is hopeful of recruiting in “a couple of positions” if he feels he is able to get players who will enhance his team.
Some on the periphery of the County squad will be allowed to leave if they wish. Mackay said: “There might be one or two of the fringe squad who want to get their career going so they might move on.
“We might try to see if we can strengthen a couple of positions, if we are going to add, we need to add with quality that is just as good if not better than we’ve got.”
A significant squad overhaul is expected at McDiarmid Park, with chairman Steve Brown set to give Callum Davidson “considerable funds” to breathe some life into a struggling team currently two points adrift at the foot of the table.
Manager Davidson, who has already agreed a deal to sign Dundalk defender Daniel Cleary, said after the Boxing Day defeat by Celtic: “It’s going to be a busy couple of weeks for me but it’s important that we get the right players in.
“The squad needs freshened up and the chairman has backed me to do that – I need ones that want to fight and run and make a difference. I can’t quantify what I need but I don’t want squad players, I want players to come in and strengthen the starting 11.”
Saints have several players on loan and Millwall defender Hayden Muller – who has been out of the picture recently – is one whose deal could be cut short.
The Perth club have been linked with Dundee striker Jason Cummings and Hearts attacker Jamie Walker.
Jim Goodwin is not anticipating major surgery to his squad but would like to add some spark. The Buddies manager said: “We need a bit of pace in the team and that’s something we will try and do.”
Goodwin acknowledges some of his fringe men could move on but is hoping to keep departures to a minimum.
He said: “There’s obviously going to be one or two players who are not happy with the lack of game time as well so there might be one or two go the other way as well. But I don’t want to lose anybody.
“I would love to be able to strengthen and that’s what we will try and do over the coming weeks.”
Midfielder Jamie McGrath almost moved to Hibs in the summer, with Scott Allan and Drey Wright due to be going the other way before things fell through at the last minute due to an administrative error by Hibs. It remains to be seen if any part of that deal will be resurrected. McGrath is also of interest to Aberdeen.