Rangers duo in Championship boss' January recruitment plans

Dunfermline boss John Hughes hopes to have two loan Rangers in his squad come the end of January – after targeting James Maxwell on his Pars recruitment drive.

Dunfermline's Kai Kennedy.  (Photo by Mark Scates / SNS Group)
Dunfermline's Kai Kennedy. (Photo by Mark Scates / SNS Group)

Kai Kennedy is approaching half-way in his season-long loan at East End Park, and January talks are scheduled to assess the merits of the agreement so far.

The highly-rated winger, who signed a new deal at Ibrox in January after a contract wrangle and interest from West Ham, has featured 13 times this season – but only made three appearances since Hughes took over last month.

However, that could change come the end of the month with Hughes hoping to persuade the winger to spend the next six months of his “massive future” contributing to the Pars’ Championship survival bid while re-uniting him with former Rangers youth team-mate James Maxwell.

Dunfermline manager John Hughes will also hold talks over Mark Connolly's deal. (Photo by Paul Devlin / SNS Group)

“Kai’s going to be a difficult one because Rangers didn’t let us cup-tie him because of his game-time,” Hughes said.

“He was just starting to find his feet when I came in and then he took an illness, and he’s found himself back out of the team.

“That might be a recall from Rangers, so that’s one we’ll look at."

Talks will take place after Sunday’s Fife derby with Raith Rovers where the deals for all three loan players – Kennedy, Mark Connolly and Ross Graham – will be assessed, but Hughes is hopeful of hanging onto Kennedy – if less so about recruiting former Falkirk kid Maxwell, who is currently on-loan at Ayr United.

Dunfermline manager John Hughes. (Photo by Rob Casey / SNS Group)

“You have to speak to the player first and try to twist his arm.

“Kai’s giving it ‘game-time, game-time’, like I would be saying as well. If I was on loan and wasn’t playing, you want to go and play football.

“But I have to be honest to the other players. Against Kilmarnock when we played [Ryan] Dow and [Matthew Todd], the shape looked good.

“So, Kai’s found himself out of the team. But one thing I can tell you is he’s a smashing boy and he’s got a massive, massive future.

James Maxwell in action for Ayr United. (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)

“He can turn a game, Kai Kennedy, and if he’s here after the window then I would be absolutely delighted.

“He fills that left-hand side until Dom [Thomas] gets back – and then there’s competition for places.”

Maxwell would also create competition in a similar area on the left-side and Hughes confirmed there was an interest from the Fife side but he is hedging his bets on successfully taking him east.

The versatile 20-year-old has spent 2021 away from Rangers, initially at Queen of the South last season and the first half of this term at Somerset Park.

“He’s been on loan twice – he did very well at Queens and he’s doing very well at Ayr United. He’s a player I would like at the club and we’re still in dialogue hoping he might come our way,” Hughes said.

“He’s definitely one that if he did, the fans would be very, very happy, that’s the kind of quality we’re trying to bring.

“He can play in a number of positions - left-back, left-wing, wide-right – you’re killing two birds with one stone. Players that can do that can narrow down your squad.”

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