By Anthony Evans
The Scottish Premiership has already seen a flurry of activity in the first 11 days of the January transfer window.
Four clubs have yet to enter the market for a player so far, and will have until midnight on Thursday January 31st to finalise their signings that could make all the difference in the second half of this remarkable Premiership season.
Aberdeen are one of the sides who are yet to sign a player this month. After a solid run of results over Christmas, the Dons have moved themselves to within three points of league leaders Celtic.
However with Max Lowe returning to Derby after an impressive loan spell, Derek McInnes is desperately in need of a new left back.
The Reds boss may also have to seek additional cover at centre back, with three players currently on the sidelines. Mikey Devlin has missed the last 10 games with a foot injury, Watford loanee Tommie Hoban has only just finished his rehabilitation for a shoulder injury suffered in August and Mark Reynolds has yet to feature for the team this season.
Sam Cosgrove has been in fantastic goalscoring form recently, but McInnes may also want to bolster his options at the top end of the pitch with the Dons looking short in that department at times this season.
His main priority however will be to ensure he retains his key players this month, with prized asset Scott McKenna being constantly linked with clubs south of the border. Captain Graeme Shinnie and Gary Mackay-Steven are both out of contract in the summer and the latter has been the subject of interest from MLS side New York City in recent days.
Celtic have had a very busy transfer window with three players joining the club in the early part of the month.
Brendan Rodgers has moved quickly to sign West Brom winger and Scotland international Oliver Burke on a loan until the end of the season, whilst PSG forward Timothy Weah, son of the Ballon D’Or winner George, has also penned a loan deal until the summer.
Striker Vakoun Issouf Bayo has also joined the club for an undisclosed fee from Slovakian side Dunajska Streda. The 22 year old, who has 2 caps for Ivory Coast joins the Hoops with an impressive goal tally with his former employers, and will look to challenge Odsonne Edouard and Timothy Weah for a starting berth upfront as the Hoops chase a treble-treble.
Fans have been crying out for better strength in-depth in defence, so it won’t be a surprise if Rodgers brings in a couple of players in that area before the deadline in 20 days time.
Dundee boss Jim McIntyre has already signed two players as he looks to beat the drop. Dee currently sit at the foot of the Premiership table and are four points from 10th placed Hamilton.
However the club look to have pulled off a good piece of business in recruiting former Ross County centre back Andrew Davies on loan from English National League side Hartelpool.
The 34 year old lifted the League Cup with the Staggies in 2016, and should add a wealth of experience to a backline that has leaked far too many goals this season.
Swiss Goalkeeper Seny Dieng has also joined the club on loan until the end of the season from English Championship outfit Queens Park Rangers, subject to international clearance.
Hamilton are also yet to make a move in the window. Striker Fredrick Brustad has been recalled by Norwegian side Molde after a scoring just one goal during his loan spell with the club.
Accies fans may be slightly concerned with the lack of transfer activity so far, but should be buoyed with the news that prolific striker James Keatings is close to returning to fitness after a spell on the sidelines.
Hamilton, who are just two points clear of St Mirren and Dundee, are the Premiership’s lowest goalscorers, so manager Martin Canning will most certainly be in the market for another striker who could be the difference between staying up and dropping down to the Championship for the first time since 2014.
Craig Levein has already added two new players to his Hearts squad in the early part of the window.
Defender Conor Shaughnessy has came in on a loan from Reading until the end of the season, whilst striker David Vanecek has completed his move from Czech side FK Teplice after agreeing a pre-contract with the Jambos last summer.
After a dreadful run of results in the past couple of months Hearts will be keen to build on their back-to-back wins over Hamilton and bitter rivals Hibernian as they return from the winter break.
Hearts have had a staggering turnover of players at the club during Levein’s tenure, and it is highly likely that there will be more new faces through the door at Tynecastle before the window slams shut.
Hibernian are the third club who are yet to register a new signing in January so far, but that will soon change.
Neil Lennon has confirmed that the club are very close to confirming the signing of Ryan Gauld on a loan deal from Portuguese club Sporting Lisbon.
The 23 year old midfielder looks set to return to Scotland after struggling to break into the first team at Sporting. The deal has been held up by paperwork but is expected to be finalised in the next 24 hours.
Lennon is also in the market for at least one striker, given the poor form of both Florian Kamberi and Jamie MacLaren this season.
The Hibees have been linked with a loan move for Celtic’s Lewis Morgan and also with a potential bid for Jason Cummings, who has been in good goalscoring form for Peterborough in League One south of the border, on loan from his current club Nottingham Forest.
The sudden departure of experienced defender Efe Ambrose may also force the Hibs boss to look for an adequate replacement to vill the void left by the Nigerian.
Steve Clarke is also still to add to his squad at Kilmarnock, with the Rugby Park club currently sitting a point behind Celtic and Rangers in third place in the league table.
The Killie boss is hopeful that striker Greg Stewart, who has been of the stars of the season with eight goals and eight assists, will remain with the club after Birmingham decided to cut short his loan spell.
It would be a huge blow for the Ayrshire side, who are on course to qualify for the Europa League next season, as Steve Clarke continues to take his side from strength to strength in the Scottish Premiership.
Livingston have completed their first signing of the window this week after winger Gregg Wylde signed a 18-month contract with the club.
The former Rangers winger has returned to Scotland following a five year spell playing in England’s third and fourth tier.
Manager Gary Holt is delighted to have secured Wylde’s services, and will hope that he can help the team consolidate their place in the Premiership following promotion last season.
Holt will also be keen to resolve the situation regarding club captain Craig Halkett who will be out of contract next summer. Halkett, who has been one of the standout players in the league this season, has been rumoured to be a target of Sheffield United, Blackburn Rovers, and former club Rangers.
On paper, Motherwell may have made one of the best signings of the window, with the capture of Scotland international Ross McCormack, on loan from Aston Villa.
McCormack will now enter his second stint at Fir Park, after leaving the club for Cardiff City in 2008.
The striker boasts an impressive goal tally from his time down south and notched two in 13 caps for his country, and Well fans will hope he can score some goals between now and the end of the season to catapult the club up the league table towards the top six.
Stephen Robinson will also hope that fellow new signing, winger Gboly Ariyibi who joins on loan from Nottingham Forest, can provide the service to McCormack and Motherwell’s other forwards to improve their standings in the second half of the Premiership season.
Steven Gerrard’s Rangers have been very active in the window so far, making two marquee additions that Gers fans hope will help the club end Celtic’s dominance and win that illustrious league title that has eluded them since 2011.
The blue side of the Old Firm only trail their neighbours on goal difference at the top of the Premiership.
Two established English Premier League players in Bournemouth’s Jermain Defoe and Southampton’s Steven Davis have both penned loan deals for the remainder of the campaign, and their experience at the top level could prove pivotal in the months to come.
Rangers have also signed Kilmarnock winger Jordan Jones and Dundee’s Glen Kamara who will both join up with the team at Ibrox at the end of May when their contracts expire.
However it has been rumoured in the past couple of days that Rangers are looking to agree a deal with Dundee that would see Glen Kamara being able to play for the Gers four months ahead of schedule.
St Johnstone are the final club who have yet to make any signings this month.
Tommy Wright’s summer recruits such as Drey Wright and Matthew Kennedy have been in superb form this season, and this is one of the reasons that the Saints are 6th in the table, just five points behind 4th placed Aberdeen.
The Northern Irishmen may look to add one or two players on loan to ensure that there is healthy competition throughout his squad so that they can build on their strong end to 2018, which included an eight match unbeaten run.
St Mirren made their first signing of the window with confirmation last night of Romanian defender Mihai Popescu from Dinamo Bucharesti.
Oran Kearney’s side will need much stronger performances at the back in the next four months if they are to avoid beating the drop, and he will hope that 25 year old Popescu, who stands at 6ft “2”, can become an aerial presence at the heart of the Buddies back line.
But Kearney will also be fully aware of the fact that only Hamilton have scored less goals (15) than his side, along with Dundee who have also netted just 14 times this season.
Experienced Canadian forward Simeon Jackson has failed to be that goalscoring prowess that the Paisley side are in dire need of, so Kearney and the club will be doing everything they can to get a prolific striker in the door before the deadline at the end of the month.
So some clubs still have work to do if they are going to have the players they need to achieve their goals this season.
With plenty time remaining in the window, managers will be confident that they can get the business done in time to beat the deadline.
But as that deadline approaches panic can set in and things than change dramatically, so expect a few surprises between now and midnight on January 31st.