In sharp contrast to last season, Dundee United approach the last knockings of the winter transfer window in good shape.
With David Wotherspoon and Alex Greive already in the building, Jim Goodwin’s deadline day wish-list consists solely of a centre-back. That search continues and could go to the wire.
Exits are a possibility, Goodwin has conceded. However, firm offers for any of United’s fringe players have been scarce.
Courier Sport sets the scene ahead of the 11.30 p.m. deadline.
Sights set on a defender
While United failed to claim all three points against Dunfermline on Saturday, their match-day squad was as strong as it has been at any point during this campaign.
A mixture of players returning to full fitness, and the captures of David Wotherspoon and Alex Greive meant that Goodwin had ample options on the bench.
The only area in which United are lacking in depth is central defence.
Ollie Denham’s return to Cardiff City, allied with Declan Gallagher’s groin surgery, meant that there was not a single senior centre-half among the substitutes against the Pars.
The Tangerines would ideally like to recruit a central defender who could also operate at right-back.
Barring any unforeseen exits, that would likely be United’s only piece of meaningful business – and even that is by no means certain, with the club unwilling to bring a body in to simply make up the numbers.
Kilmarnock loan deal is NO impediment to Birighitti exit
Speaking last week, Goodwin revealed that “one or two” clubs had registered a tentative interest in Mark Birighitti.
Nevertheless, the Australia international saw his emergency loan with Premiership outfit Kilmarnock extended by another seven days on Saturday.
That would, in theory, take his stint at Rugby Park to February 3rd – AFTER the transfer window has closed.
However, there is a break clause in the loan agreement and, should there be an opportunity for United and Birighitti to secure an exit for the out-of-favour stopper, then he can be recalled.
Birighitti still has five months remaining on his contract but will not feature for the Terrors – he was not even assigned a squad number this term – and has been urged to seek pastures new.
Could any fringe men depart?
There are a handful of United players who have not played as much football as they would like and – should Goodwin feel he has sufficient depth in their position – could pursue first-team opportunities.
Keiran Freeman would seem an obvious example of this.
The former Scotland U21 international is a very capable right-back with 50 appearances in the Scottish Premiership under his belt.
However, Freeman has only played seven games this term, with his last outing coming on November 4.
Now aged 23 and in the final five months of his contract, he is unlikely to be satisfied with a bit-part role as cover for the admittedly consistent Liam Grimshaw.
IF United were to sign a centre-back who could also cover right-back, one suspects that could give Freeman food for thought.
Declan Glass, meanwhile, was the odd man out from the match-day squad at the weekend.
Another player who is out of contract this summer, Goodwin has spoken effusively the playmaker’s ability – and he shone earlier this season, starting seven games on the bounce.
But Goodwin is now awash with engine room options and, for the moment, Glass seems to be behind Craig Sibbald, Archie Meekison, Chris Mochrie and David Wotherspoon for a forward-thinking midfield role.
However, Goodwin confirmed earlier this week that he is yet to field any offers for his players.
Any other business?
Mathew Cudjoe has grown frustrated in recent times but remains determined to fight for his place. Suggestions that he could leave on loan in this window are, barring any late developments, wide of the mark.
Should he be made available again, Miller Thomson can only return to Montrose on loan, having played for them and United in the same season.
Lewis O’Donnell has been linked with a move south this window and, like Birighitti, there is a recall clause in his loan deal with Kelty Hearts if an acceptable offer is received.