As the transfer window shut many players would have been staring at little game time in immediate future. Joel Sked picks five Scottish Premiership player left in limbo.
Liam Henderson - Celtic
A permanent move to Preston North End to link up with former Hamilton Academical boss Alex Neil looked to be on the cards for the 21-year-old, only for it to fall through after the clubs couldn’t agree terms. This allowed Hibs to make enquiries over a loan move on Transfer Deadline Day, only for that to come to nothing as well.
It has left Henderson with the prospect of playing under-20 football until January with the outside chance of getting a limited amount of minutes in league or cup action for the Hoops. However, such are Celtic’s options in the centre of the pitch, even that looks unlikely with Scott Brown, Stuart Armstrong, Olivier Ntcham, Callum McGregor, Tom Rogic, Nir Bitton and Eboue Kouassi all ahead of him in the pecking order, not to mention Scott Sinclair and Patrick Roberts’ ability to play centrally.
It is the shame for the talented midfielder, who has great close control, a fine passing range and wonderful vision. He would have been a positive addition to every squad in the country. While he will continue to develop under Brendan Rodgers’ tutelage, there comes a point he will need regular first-team football so he doesn’t eventually stagnate. Another season playing around 500 minutes would be a waste of such a skilful player.
It shows the downfall of trying to get a move in the remaining days of the transfer window. A mid-season move is a must.
Jason Holt - Rangers
Rumours circulated on Transfer Deadline Day that Holt could be used as a makeweight in Rangers’ attempts to recruit Jamie Walker from Hearts. But for all intent and purposes it never seemed realistic, even if Hearts lack a player of Holt’s ilk, one which combines energy with the ability to put his foot on the ball and slow the game down. However, one thing is for sure, he is not in Pedro Caixinha’s first-team plans.
The 24-year-old has played 81 minutes of first-team football. Nearly 60 of those minutes were in the club’s first game of the season, the 1-0 defeat of Progrès Niederkorn. The arrival of Ryan Jack, Carlos Pena and Graeme Dorrans, as well as the return to fitness of Jordan Rossiter, plus Caxiniha’s propensity of playing only two central midfielders has diminished much hope of Holt getting any where near the appearance figures of the last two season, 45 and 38.
For all Holt’s qualities - he’s intelligent, busy and comfortable on the ball - he rarely dominates a game. In essence he doesn’t have the presence, the influence, to be a Rangers midfielder. If Rangers are to close the gap to Celtic they need to improve on players such as Holt.
He could still see some game time if Caixinha opts to change to a three-man midfield, or a new manager comes in before January. But if he wants to play a move away has to be on the cards.
Jamie Walker - Heart of Midlothian
Speaking of Jamie Walker. His move possible move to Rangers became a transfer saga as the transfer window progressed. By the final day it had reached fever pitch. It seemed to be on, then it wasn’t, then it was, then it definitely wasn’t.
Both teams faced bizarre criticised. Hearts for trying to extract the fee they had set for the player, and Rangers for not willing to pay such a fee simply because they didn’t value the player at that amount - around £1 million - when Walker would be out of contract next summer.
The 24-year-old wanted to move from Tynecastle, that became clear when he rejected a new contract earlier in the year, and he wanted to move to Ibrox. Reports suggest he will sign a pre-contract agreement with Rangers in January. Such a move will only agitate the Hearts support further. When the player was substituted from the Motherwell game last Saturday there were a smattering of boos.
For some fans there is nothing he would be able to do to win them over, while for many he will have to be inspired form to do so. Many fans questioned his commitment in the defeat to the Steelmen, especially as it was he who was at fault for Well’s winning goal. Yet, there were signs of Walker getting back up to speed in an attacking sense, finding joy behind the Well midfield.
The Hearts squad is lacking quality and a certain balance, which could effect getting the best out of the player before he moves on. Yet, if he is focused and fit Walker should remain a huge player for the club for the rest of the season, or at least until January where Rangers, or someone else, may come back with an offer Hearts can’t refuse.
Malaury Martin - Heart of Midlothian
From one player Hearts are reluctantly going to watch leave, to one they are reluctantly still paying. The Frenchman has been a disastrous signing for the club. Recruited in January on a three-and-a-half year deal, the midfielder was seen as a set-piece specialist as Hearts looked to become more dangerous from free-kicks and corners.
From then outset the player was pedestrian. Though technically sound he spooked by the pace of the game in Scotland, which is completely understandable. A new player coming to this nation should be afforded time to adjust. Martin’s case wasn’t helped when he was picked by Ian Cathro to start against Hibs and then withdrawn at half-time not once, but twice. It was a long way back.
On such a contract, likely one of the club’s higher earners, at the age of 29 it was always going to be difficult for the club to move him on. So is there a way back for him? Well, he doesn’t seem to be a Craig Levein midfielder. He is not capable of playing a high-tempo pressing game, and he is not defensively sound enough to protect a defence. He is a deep-lying playmaker, something which the club could do with, but because of his lack of mobility it makes it extremely difficult from him. He is the type of player who needs to have the team built around him. The problem is he isn’t good enough for Hearts to do such a thing.
It is likely he is here for the long haul, becoming the club’s forgotten man. A mantle carried out with aplomb by Juwon Oshaniwa.
Chris Millar - St Johnstone
The 34-year-old has been an incredible servant for St Johnstone. The player signed a one-year extension in April to take him into his testimonial year. He has made more than 300 appearances, 223 of them in the Scottish Premiership, for the Perth Saints, helping the club to its only major trophy. He is a club stalwart and legend.
Although, as Echo and the Bunnymen sang, Nothing Lasts Forever. Millar has certainly done something at Saints, but now finds himself sixth or possibly seventh choice in the midfield as Tommy Wright told the Courier: “I’ve now got Davidson, Paton, Wotherspoon, Craig, Alston and young Kyle McClean so Chris won’t play as many games as I explained to him.”
He was made available for transfer or loan without anything coming to fruition. Such is his service there would be nothing wrong with Millar simply being an experienced head around the changing room, possibly playing every now and then. Wright however spoke of his need to play which suggests Millar, who has had his injury issues, still has a playing future, whether in Perth or somewhere else.
Millar would be a savvy loan signing for a Championship club, akin to a Mark Kerr or John Rankin. It would be a pity to see his Saints career peter out, but what a career it has been.