Dick Campbell admits he is resigned to losing Arbroath hero Joel Nouble in January.
Nouble, 25, has rippled the net four times in 10 outings for the Lichties, terrorising defences with his hulking stature, direct running and eye for goal.
He was named Championship player of the month for September last week, capping a superb start to the campaign.
Meanwhile, Nouble’s parent club, Livingston, are the lowest scorers in the Premiership and one point off the bottom of the table.
“I’ve already said to Davie [Martindale, Livingston manager] that I know Joel is going back there in January,” Campbell told Courier Sport.
“And so he should be — Davie is at the wrong end of the table and I’ve got the best striker in this league! It’s not rocket science.
“Joel has been a phenomenon.
“When Joel accepted that [player of the month] award last week, he was almost crying and said he’s never been happier at a football club in his life.
“He’s just a lovely big lad and will have all my support when he goes back to Livingston.”
However, Campbell is far from downbeat about the prospect.
He has faced the challenge of replacing a prolific loan star before — most recently when Jack Hamilton returned to Livi during the summer — and has irons in the fire.
“We’ve plenty of games left with Joel — and a lot of points to play for,” continued Campbell.
— SPFL (@spfl) September 20, 2021
“But, Anton Dowds scored two great goals against Aberdeen [in a bounce game] — we beat them 3-1 — and that’s a message to me that he wants Nouble’s jersey.
“I’ve also got a boy coming up from England in the next fortnight and I’ll compare and see if he’s better than what I’ve got.”
When Nouble does depart, Campbell is adamant he will leave Angus having made a lasting contribution to the club and the community.
He added: “Joel went up to the Arbroath Community Trust last Tuesday and Thursday.
— Joel Nouble (@OfficialNoubz) September 12, 2021
“He spent an hour-and-a-half there each time and gave a talk to all the kids.
“That’s a really nice thing to do and, in my opinion, what footballers should do.
“He is a very popular guy and has made a real impact on the club and the whole town — he’s more popular in Arbroath than me, now!”