With the January transfer window opening in only ten days it’s that time of year when I take a look at the Ross County F.C. roster and try to determine who’s staying and who’s going? Whether I like it or not, it’s going to be a little more difficult this year as the roster put together by Jim McIntyre and Billy Dodds is leaner and meaner than the last few put together by the Adamses. Where Derek and George liked to cast a wide net and hope that at least a few of the players they reeled in would stick, McIntyre and Dodds have brought in players they already knew, scouted well, and addressed specific needs rather than simply taking a flyer on a player. Off we go!
Fox obviously isn’t going anywhere, but after that things get a bit more cloudy. Woods, who did just fine while Fox was out through injury, is on-loan from Leyton Orient until January and has indicated that he’d like to either a) see his loan extended through the end of the season, or b) sign on with County on a permanent basis. Severn, brought in as cover for Woods while Fox was out, is also on-loan (from Non-League Worcester City) through January. If Woods gets either of his wishes, well, problem solved at least through the end of the season. This would also likely mean that Severn gets a firm handshake and a ticket back to Worcester. However, if Leyton Orient want Woods back at the end of his loan County are left with only Severn as a back-up (assuming he wants to stay and Worcester City allow it) and County will, and should, want to do better than that. My guess? The end of January will either see a continuation of the Fox-Woods tandem, or Fox and a new face.
No need to beat around the proverbial bush here, the only payer in danger of not being with the club come the end of January is Darren Holden- he of the infamous “jeggings” picture. Although he signed a two year deal in June he has only two League Cup matches- for a total of 44 minutes- and a single goal to his name since arriving at Victoria Park. He has played with the reserve side to generally mixed results. At a bigger club with a bigger squad there might be time to let him develop, but I can’t see Jim McIntyre going into the stretch run with only six reliable defenders in the first team picture. Holden might not leave, but if he doesn’t I’d imagine somebody else will be brought in.
The only player that seems in any danger in this group is Ian McShane- and he won’t be going anywhere. County were keen on him for several seasons before signing McIntyre as manager and using that connection to get McShane up north. It’s a bit concerning that he’s played the fewest minutes of the group and that he’s been subbed off in four of the five matches he started, but he’s in the first year of a three year contract so County will probably have some patience with him. I doubt if there will be any additions here.
Hmm… Lot’s to consider here. Liam Boyce’s play has probably put him in position to move to a higher level both in terms of competition and compensation, but I can’t see County making that move at least they are assured of another season in the Premiership, which probably means if he is sold it won’t be until the summer. Curran isn’t going anywhere, there are few players who relish in doing the dirty work and manage pitch in with a fair number of goals as well. Schalk is signed through the end of the season and will probably stick at least until then so that McIntyre and Dodds can have a longer look at him. If anyone is in danger, it’s Graham. He was brought in to provide a change of pace from the usual Boyce-Curran pairing and on occasion (he has two goals) he has done that. But he hasn’t done it often enough or well enough to force management into considering splitting up Curran and Boyce in favor of including him in the starting eleven on a daily basis. He is on a two year contract, but if the club want rid of him and/or he wants a shot at first time football they’ll work it out. If there’s any field position where County is likely to add a player, it’s up front. If Boyce may be moved on, Schalk is still a “wait and see,” and Graham continues to underwhelm, there’s sure to be room to audition a few players for next year.
Can’t wait! One of my favorite times of year!