Friday, December 16, 2016

What will happen in January?

The Premiership may shut up shop for most of January, but plenty of managers will be running up big bills on their mobile phones.  It's the last chance for clubs to strengthen, either by bringing in that proven goalscorer, or that solid defender, or both.  Many players will also be keeping an ear to the ground; some will be hoping that dream move might come to fruition, whilst others will be hoping their agent can arrange for them to get away from whichever club has stuck them on the bench or in the stand.  Hamilton Accies will sign some random foreigners who will make a handful of appearances and then disappear, and Kilmarnock will probably loan an entire XI of players in the hope that a few might actually be competent.

So what does Narey's Toepoker think will happen next month?

Four Premiership players are only under contract until sometime in the January window.  The only one set to be kept on is Hamilton Accies' Lennard Sowah, who was signed in October and has made himself a regular in defence when fit.  His teammate Richard 'Shaka' Roy (where on earth does that nickname come from?) will surely be away though; the Trinidadian striker has played just 21 minutes for the first team and hasn't been seen since a missed sitter against Kilmarnock in mid-August.

Thorsten Stuckmann was signed by Partick Thistle because of an injury crisis and will be offski if Ryan Scully has recovered from a dislocated shoulder in time to back up Tomas Cerny.  And Motherwell's Lee Lucas has rarely been fit enough to make a contribution.

The question is whether Ali Crawford and Callum Paterson leave during January or hang around till the summer.  Paterson is attracting loads of interest from down south; if a rumoured £500,000 bid from Derby County comes through then surely Hearts will cash in on their best player as he is out of contract in the summer.

Crawford will be the next chick to fly from the Hamilton nest, and though he is tied up till 2018 it probably wouldn't take a huge bid to sign him.  However, Accies will be relegated if he leaves, so they may plead him to hang around till the end of the season.

Souleymane Coulibaly's scoring rate has slowed down in recent weeks, but he's been hot for Kilmarnock, scoring all sorts of goals and plenty of them.  He's another player who could be the subject of a January bid.

Miles Storey's move to Aberdeen has been a disaster so far, with the attacker unable to force his way into the starting lineup and rarely seen, even as a sub, in his favoured centre-forward role.  With plenty of forward options already available, Derek McInnes might let him move elsewhere.  Whilst you'd imagine some English clubs would fancy him, I would be amazed if Caley Thistle, where he impressed last year on loan, didn't pick up the phone.

Celtic's fixture congestion will ease after New Year so there won't be much need for squad rotation; expect a few youngsters to go out on loan, with Eoghan O'Connell, Liam Henderson and Ryan Christie obvious choices.  All would improve any other Premiership club, while Hibs might try to loan Henderson for a second time.  But Brendan Rodgers might prefer them to be blooded south of the border.

James Penrice might be an left-field choice for this list, but the teenage left-back, 18 in December, stood out in a couple of appearances for Partick Thistle at the end of last season.  He's nowhere near their first team picture just now but would do a great job in the Championship.

Whether Rangers really do need to reduce their wage bill imminently or not, it's clear that Philippe Senderos is a waste of space.  The question is whether he can be moved on, or whether the Swiss defender will insist on sitting around picking up huge wads of cash whilst contributing little.

Teammate Martyn Waghorn has gone from star striker to bit-part player and there must be a chance that he returns to England, particularly if someone was to offer a fee for him.

Hearts' left-back Juwon Oshaniwa would love to even be 'bit-part'; unless Ian Cathro takes an unlikely liking to the erratic Nigerian, he has no future at Tynecastle.  Another player with no future is Dundee's Dutch striker Jordi Teijsse, who is well down the pecking order despite his team's goalscoring problems, having failed to make the step up from amateur football in his homeland.  Teijsse has also admitted to homesickness.

Motherwell have blooded a lot of young players this season; maybe more seasoned pros Kieran Kennedy and Jacob Blyth would have seen action had they not got injured at the wrong time, but Kennedy has never really been in McGhee's good books and Blyth has been anonymous since he arrived in the summer.

Kilmarnock signed a gazillion players in the summer and afterward - more of that in a minute - and several of them were loanees.  George Green has already returned south, though the club failed to announce it publicly (we won't hold our breath given they still haven't let us know that Michael N'goo has left Rugby Park).

A few other loan players' deals expire during this window.  Will Boyle has been a regular in defence in recent weeks, mainly because Jonathan Burn is injured; with Scott Boyd and Miles Addison on the books, surely only one of the youngsters needs kept on.  Luke Hendrie is first choice right back so is likely to stay.  In contrast, midfielder Charlee Adams has only been a sub in recent weeks, while striker Flo Bojaj got a surprise start against Celtic but has rarely done much else.

Mark McGhee revealed at Motherwell's AGM that Luka Belic probably would never kick a ball for the club due to injuries and poor form.  He apparently criticized West Ham for thinking a player of his quality would walk into a Scottish Premiership team...which makes one wonder if McGhee had even scouted Belic before signing him!

Aberdeen will surely try to keep James Maddison for the rest of the season, while Caley Thistle have indicated that they would like to extend Larnell Cole's stay in the Highlands.

Oh, and there's David Bates at Rangers.  Who, I hear you say?  Bates is a Raith Rovers youngster who Rangers loaned in August to beef up their development squad depth.  He's actually been on the bench for a couple of senior games, but he'll be off back to Kirkcaldy.

Brendan Rodgers' squad is more bloated than the average middle-aged Scotsman, and there are certainly a few players with no future at Celtic Park.  Kris Commons, for a start.  The 33 year old was an excellent servant for Neil Lennon and, initially, Ronny Deila, but he hasn't played a competitive game since April.  Unsurprisingly, he's been linked with a reunion with his old boss at Hibs.

Nadir Ciftci made the odd sub appearance earlier this season, but Rodgers has quickly realised he's nowhere near good enough for Celtic.  Rumours of a return to Dundee United are probably lazy journalism, but if he wants to kickstart his career he needs to get away from Parkhead.

Long-forgotten reserve keeper Logan Bailly is set to return to Belgium and sign for Gent.

Efe Ambrose is out of contract in the summer, but had a trial with Wolves last month and Celtic will surely let him go for nothing if an offer comes.  Dedryck Boyata has played the odd game recently, but is fourth-choice centre-back and I wonder if he might look for a move too.

This deserves its own section, because Jamie Cobain, Dapo Kayode, Joshua Webb and Martin Smith all signed one year deals in the summer (or, in Kayode's case, September) but between them they've made four league starts - all by Smith.  Cobain and Webb haven't played since the League Cup group stage, and Kayode hasn't played at all . Might some or all of them exit Rugby Park?

Callum McFadzean is worth a mention too; the Scotland under-21 international signed a three year contract in July, but has only played one minute of first team action since August.  Injuries have played a part, but he wasn't a regular even when fit.

Lawrie Spence (LS) has ranted and spouted his ill-informed opinions on Narey's Toepoker since September 2007.  He has a life outside this blog.  Honestly.

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