Raith Rovers will have to make do without top scorer Jamie Gullan for at least part of January after Hibernian decided to recall the striker.
Gullan’s loan deal expires after the Peterhead match on Saturday, and Hibs boss Jack Ross is keen to take a closer look at the striker who has scored eight times in League One this season, including a double in the 5-3 derby win over East Fife last weekend.
Raith manager John McGlynn admitted he is desperate to hold onto the 20-year-old, who has made a big impact in his second loan spell at Stark’s Park.
“We’re very keen to keep him,” McGlynn said. “He’s now our top goalscorer and if we lose him that would be a blow at this stage of the season.
“He loves being here, which is a bonus from our point of view, but Hibs are taking him back with a view to being around their first team.
“It will probably come down to what Hibs can do in the window, and whether they feel they can allow Jamie to come back here.
“We’ll just have to let that one take its time, but the good thing is the loan deal is working for all parties.
“Jamie is playing regularly and scoring goals, which is a benefit for us and for Hibs because he’s developing.”
Raith have, however, reached a verbal agreement with Ross County to retain goalkeeper Ross Munro on a loan deal until the end of the season while striker John Baird is also set to stay for the title push before emigrating to Australia.
With defender Steven Anderson already secured on loan from St Johnstone until the end of the season, and the door left open for Gullan to return, McGlynn confirmed will be looking for one more loan signing in the January window to reach the permitted quota of four.
“We have to be looking for the right one,” he said.
“Other than that you’re looking at free agents. At this stage of the season there will be one or two kicking around, but they’ll be kicking around for a reason, and you might get lucky. Beyond that, you need to buy somebody.”
Confirming his January intentions, McGlynn added: “I’ve prioritised two players, you might get them, you might get one, you might get none.
“Either way, I don’t think anything will happen before Saturday.”
Rovers entertain first-footers Peterhead in the first match of 2020 on Saturday hoping to build on their fantastic derby win at Bayview, which send them two points clear at the top of the table
The focus for the Kirkcaldy men is now on extending that gap.
“The thing about being in front is that the teams below us know if they slip up that gap is going to get bigger, and that is a pressure on them,” McGlynn said. “It’s very similar last year to ourselves and Arbroath, where they continued to win and we dropped a couple of points here and there, which meant the gap gradually got bigger to such an extent it became very difficult.
“Whether we can do that or not, time well tell, but it’s certainly what we need to focus on.
“Will it be easy? No. We’ve got Peterhead this week and they gave us a really difficult game in the Scottish Cup and beat us up there.”