January moves aplenty at Ayr and Arbroath, but Rangers and Celtic deals to be addressed

After running an estate agents business in Sheffield, ‘moving’ is something Lee Bullen is well versed on. And, with this being January, there are moves aplenty in the football world.

James Maxwell found the net and Ayr's on-loan Rangers player is in demand as his loan deal hits the halfway point. (Photo by Roddy Scott / SNS Group)
James Maxwell found the net and Ayr's on-loan Rangers player is in demand as his loan deal hits the halfway point. (Photo by Roddy Scott / SNS Group)

The Ayr United manager returned north last week and steered his new team to victory over cinch Championship leaders Arbroath thanks to James Maxwell’s strike being bundled over the line by Ricky Little.

Maxwell is someone who could be on the move, even though his loan agreement from Rangers was initially signed for the full season. There is still clarity to be established from others.

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“I need to speak to Graeme [Mathie] and the chairman,” said Bullen, who saw Steven Bradley return to Hibs and has Jonathan Afolabi’s loan from Celtic hitting the halfway point when, like Maxwell’s, it can be reviewed.

Ayr manager Lee Bullen (centre) and Aaron Muirhead at full time after defeating leaders Arbroath. (Photo by Roddy Scott / SNS Group)
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“It seems to be every club in the league is after Maxwell at the moment but the way he played in the first-half, drifting into the pockets, was just fantastic.”

Positioned higher up the park to great effect on Saturday, Maxwell doesn’t know if or where he’ll be going either. Leeds are reportedly keen, Dunfermline have made their desire public. For now, he is at Ayr but keeps in touch with Rangers regularly.

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“There are a lot of reports over the years. Some are true, some aren’t. I am happy playing here and unless there was something I really wanted to jump at and do, I can see myself staying here.

“I deal with Billy Kirkwood, the loans manager. I’ve spoken to him a lot recently, just keeping him up-to-date.”

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Joel Nouble is returning to Livington having played his final game for Arbroath - but is hoping to return for a league winners' medal. (Photo by Roddy Scott / SNS Group)

The reports back will be predominantly positive. Although it has been credited to the unfortunate Little, Maxwell is claiming a third goal of his spell: “Absolutely. It was going on target, wasn’t it? It got a wee double kick off him, if they give me it, I’ll take it.”

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Goal or not, he certainly caught the eye on Saturday, just as Joel Nouble has done throughout his own loan at Arbroath. He’s definitely on the move, and will be back at Livingston for the Premiership resumption, but leaves a parting message to his team-mates – urging them not to lose the top spot his five goals and forward play has contributed to.

“A lot of strong teams will be strengthening but I’m fairly confident they can maintain it,” he said. “I’ve told them I want to come at the end of the season and get my medal, but it’s going to be one of the tightest title races in a while.”

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Arbroath have already replaced him with Jack Hamilton and assistant Ian Campbell revealed there will “definitely” be more movement at the league leaders before their top of the table match with Raith next week.

Bullen has plans for his team this month too, after seeing them win his debut on Saturday: “There’s a bit of player trading to go on, the squad is imbalanced in certain areas – we have a lot of defenders, not so many midfielders, if Afolabi goes back that’s an offensive position to look at.

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“We know we are working within constraints and budgets but we’ll do it the right way on behalf of the football club – but we’re halfway there if we have boys willing to put that sort of effort in.”

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