Dundee United boss Robbie Neilson insists Ayr’s title challenge will continue even if they lose top marksman Lawrence Shankland in the January transfer window.
The prolific striker has scored an incredible 28 goals already this season – including five against the Tangerines – and is understood to be attracting interest from a whole host of clubs with English Championship outfit Swansea believed to be leading the race for his signature.
Ayr have said it would take a huge offer to prise Shankland away from Somerset Park and Neilson admits there is a lot for the Honest Men and the player himself to weigh up over the next few weeks.
Neilson said: “I think the key for Ayr United will be whether they can keep hold of Shankland or not.
“There will be teams interested in January and his deal is up in the summer.
“He is over 23 so there is no compensation if he runs his contract down.
“So the question for them will be, ‘Do we cash in now, or do we keep a hold of him to try to get ourselves up?’. What’s the value of both and then balance them off.
“Whether the boy wants to jump just now . . .”
Neilson added: “He is in great form and if I was him and a good offer came in do you think, ‘I can go now and hit the ground running’ or do you sign a pre-contract and then find in the summer that the manager who signed you has been sacked as generally happens down there.
“There are a lot of ifs and buts but I don’t see Ayr falling away massively even if he does go.
“They are a strong side who know what they are doing. They understand how they need to play and they have momentum which is a big thing in this league.”