Max Lowe (Aberdeen)
The left-back has regularly impressed since joining from Derby ahead of the closure of the transfer window. Having watched the dependably defensive, though primitive attacking skills of Andrew Considine patrolling the left side of defence for the last couple of seasons, Dons fans have been thrilled to see someone of Lowe’s mould charging down the wing. He’s even proven himself in the bigger matches; standing out as one of Aberdeen’s best players, maybe *the* best, in their narrow Betfred Cup final loss to Celtic.
Supporters have frustratingly called for Graeme Shinnie to be reinstalled to the position he excelled in prior to his 2015 move from Inverness as they wish for more expansive football. Lowe’s presence gives them that while allowing manager Derek McInnes to keep his safety blanket in the middle of the park.
Martin Woods (Dundee)
He may not have had the best of games on Tuesday night as Aberdeen hammered Jim McIntyre’s side 5-1 at Pittodrie, pushing Dundee back to the foot of the Ladbrokes Premiership on goal difference. However, while it’s been baby steps for the embattled Dens Park club, they have improved since the signing of the journeyman centre midfielder. He’s an upgrade on three other CMs already at the club - Lewis Spence, Elton Ngwatala, Karl Madianga - and in turn improved the play twofold: with a more competent partner beside him, last season’s star Glen Kamara has enjoyed his best spell of the season (he was missing last night) while Woods’ presence also allows Paul McGowan to be pushed forward, where he’s been a useful partner to Kenny Miller in attack.
Having been without a club until November when Dundee snapped him up, and his prior relationship with Jim McIntyre at Dundee, it’s hard to imagine Woods won’t be sticking around until the summer at least.
Jimmy Dunne (Hearts)
Though Hearts have four first-team centre-backs under contract until the end of the season, extending Dunne’s loan is a no-brainer if the chance is there. The precarious nature of football has bitten Hearts quite severely this season. Dunne and reserve centre-half partner Clevid Dikamona are the latest examples after the pair were hit with injuries in the last couple of weeks, joining an already extensive list of stars out of action. Furthermore, after last week’s debacle at Livingston, Aaron Hughes may not longer be considered a viable back-up option.
When everyone is fit, Dunne is the third-choice centre-back at the club and was arguably the side’s best performing (available) player between August and late November. Manager Craig Levein also likes to utilise three-at-the-back systems on occasion, which would bring Dunne right into the mix once John Souttar has returned to partner Christophe Berra.
Emerson Hyndman (Hibs)
Hyndman is apparently one of the most valuable players in the league and we didn’t know it. Hell, even his own supporters didn’t know it. Opinion on the American was still pretty split prior to the injury which kept him out of six of Hibs’ seven-game winless run. Since he’s returned, halfway through the recent game at Hamilton, Hibs have improved immensely and won two on the bounce, the latter of which was Sunday’s surprisingly comfortable dismantling of Celtic.
Without Hyndman in the team, Hibs lack a proactive player capable of operating in the pocket of space behind the striker. Fellow midfielder Stevie Mallan is a threat from those areas with his shooting ability, but he doesn’t have the penchant for taking it upon himself to drive the team forward like Hyndman does.
With Bournemouth flying high in the Premiership, and the injury stopping the player from properly getting into his rhythm to this point, it would make sense for all parties if the midfielder stuck around until the summer.
Adam Hammill (St Mirren)
With St Mirren chasing the game late against Aberdeen on Saturday, Adam Hammill was withdrawn from the action for young winger Cameron Breadner. On the one hand it made sense for manager Oran Kearney: Hammill had been subdued the entire game and here was the opportunity to throw in a young attacking player, with no pressure and every chance to prove himself, in order to give his side the lift. On the other hand: OH MY GOD WHAT ARE YOU DOING? Hammill has scored from 40 and 56 yards in recent games - making him a threat any time he enters the opposing half - and had already provided the assist for St Mirren’s goal in the match with a lovely dinked cross from a free-kick.
There will be times when Hammill disappears and doesn’t do much, if anything, of note. But there are also other times when he can win a game all by himself. There are plenty of players at the wrong end of the table who will fight and scrap and battle for everything in order to help keep their sides head above water. Then there are players who provide that bit of quality in the final third needed to survive. At this moment in time St Mirren have plenty of the former and not many of the latter. With an option to extend the player’s stay until the end of the season, the Buddies must do just that.