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6 transfer window priorities for Dunfermline as John Hughes prepares to ‘spin plates’

John Hughes is on the hunt
John Hughes is on the hunt

John Hughes has a twinkle in his eye when discussing the January transfer window.

Ducking and diving; wheeling and dealing; ‘spinning plates’, as he is fond of saying.

The Dunfermline boss is visibly relishing the chance to put his own stamp on the squad at East End Park, recently noting: “When you get the opportunity of a [transfer] window, you grasp it with both hands”.

And next month could scarcely be more important because the Pars have work to do if they are to assemble a group with the requisite balance, quality and experience to escape their current plight. 

Courier Sport examines exactly what is needed on the Halbeath Road.

Stevie Lawless has already arrived

Central midfielders (x2)

Dunfermline possess an excellent deep-lying playmaker in Graham Dorrans but the rest of the midfield is not functioning.

With Dan Pybus and Iain Wilson rarely spotted under Hughes, and Paul Allan and Matty Todd both youthful and raw, a combative box-to-box player is required alongside the languid craft of Dorrans.

In addition, the Pars need a gifted operator who is comfortable in the ‘No.10’ role; capable of linking up with attackers but with the nous to drop back and add numbers to midfield when required. Think: Scott Allan.


Josh Edwards, still only 21 years of age, is Dunfermline’s only senior left-back. Regardless of the quality of his performances, that is not a healthy state of play.

Edwards in action

Miller Fenton, 18, is considered a fine young prospect but is not ready to pile pressure on Edwards.

Lewis Martin is still training with the Pars but is out of contract and has not played a senior football match since March 2020. It would be an onerous task for him to play a major role in the second half of the campaign.

Which leaves the Fifers looking to the transfer market.


Mark Connolly needs a partner.

Hughes has deemed that having a right-footer as his left-sided centre-back is too disruptive to the balance of his side, which leaves Lithuania international Vytas Gaspuitis in the cold.

Rhys Breen is highly-regarded but inexperienced.

Ross Graham’s lack of minutes will likely see him return to Dundee United.

So, Hughes ideally requires a seasoned left-footed centre-back to work alongside Connolly and tighten up a porous back-line.

Speaking of which…

Keep Mark Connolly

The on-loan Dundee United defender has not been faultless. Few in black-and-white have been this term.

However, Connolly has been the club’s most consistent performer since arriving in September.

His experience, organisational quality and professionalism are pivotal to the Pars.

Key: Connolly

Speaking to those around East End Park, he has immediately emerged as a giant in the dressing room and, with a fraught fight for survival on the cards, Hughes cannot afford to lose him.

Connolly’s deal expires on January 16 and an extension would seem a no-brainer.

Another winger

The arrival of Stevie Lawless was welcome and sorely required.

However, depending on circumstances, there is every chance the Pars may require further depth on the flanks.

Kai Kennedy has endured a maddening loan spell from Rangers due to illness and injury. Despite flashes of brilliance, he is yet to live up to the reverberant hype which accompanies his presence.

There is no guarantee the Gers will permit him to see out the campaign in Fife and, should he go back to Ibrox next month — and with Dom Thomas injured until February — Dunfermline would once again be light in wide areas.


This is where the plates could really be spun.

Looking at the Pars’ squad, they have ample attacking talent. Kevin O’Hara, Nikolay Todorov and Craig Wighton scored a combined 34 goals last season.

However, Hughes has tended to rely upon Lewis McCann in attack, with Todorov — in particular — given scant opportunity to shine.

Should one or more of those three players seek to move on in January, it will free up valuable space on the wage bill and could open up a slot in the attacking pool for a marquee marksman.

EXCLUSIVE: Former Hibs youth chief lands Dunfermline head of academy role

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