Cough claims to extend Saints’ deals

Shire hope to keep Jordan Holt at Ochilvew
Shire hope to keep Jordan Holt at Ochilvew

John Coughlin will this week ask former club St Mirren to allow him to keep their two loan stars at East Stirlingshire until the end of the season.

The short-term deals for midfielder Jamie McKernon and centre-half Jordan Holt are due to expire after Saturday’s game with Queen’s Park, but Coughlin is hoping the SPL side will allow both players to stay in the Third Division for the remainder of the campaign.

The Shire boss knows, though, that to keep both means he will have to trim his squad down to manageable numbers, and he is also preparing himself for a chat with other squad members who are likely to be told to find themselves another club.

“Over the past few games both Jamie and Jordan have played themselves into key roles in the team and, if St Mirren agree, I would like to make sure they stay here for the rest of the season.

“We have already begun the process and had informal chats with the players. Obviously, it will be up to the guys and Danny Lennon as to what happens but we are hoping for a favourable outcome.”

Holt remains an injury doubt for this weekend’s game after he was the victim of a poor challenge late in Saturday’s 4-3 win at Elgin City that saw home striker Stuart Leslie sent-off. Coughlin has his fingers crossed the player will respond to treatment.

“It was one of the most straightforward red cards you will ever see in football,” he said. “But the result for us was an injured player who was in a lot of discomfort and we are now just hoping that getting daily treatment at St. Mirren will make all the difference.

“Jordan was one of our best players on Saturday and he is now just settling down into the team. From that point of view it would be disappointing to lose him just at the point where we were starting to get the most out of him.

“The same applies to Jamie McKernon who is a player I was keen to bring here but he has taken time to make an impact. Over the past few weeks, though, I think he has shown the kind of form that has made him a very important member of our squad.”

But the Shire boss understands there is a flipside to both players remaining at the club. And that means unloading some who have failed to make quite the same impact as Holt and McKernon.

Coughlin accepts that his first team squad could do with a trim, but that depends on him being able to persuade some players that their future lies elsewhere.

“I had set a pre-season plan to run with a small squad but circumstances have dictated otherwise,” he said. “However, we are now sitting at 23 or 24 and that is too many and we have a glut of midfielders as well. But changes are not really in my hands; players have signed contracts and if they are not prepared to move on then we will have to keep them, but I cannot see what good it does them sitting in the stand.”

The Shire boss will have a much bigger pool of players to choose from this week. The flu victims who missed the Elgin City win will return with Paul Quinn, Steven Jackson, Conor Kelly and Philipp Züfle all added to his selection options.

“It is an important game for a variety of different reasons,” said Coughlin. “Most importantly, we have to build on success against Elgin. Winning one match is not any use to us in our current position and we have to seek consistency.”

That will not be easy against a Queen’s Park team who sit second in the league behind Rangers but Shire won the last meeting of the clubs at Hampden in November and that gives the head coach hope.

“We know we can do it because we have done it before,” he said. “We turned in a great performance that night to win 2-1 and I did not think there was a great deal between the clubs when they last came to Ochilview.

“We have to accept we are underdogs and that only a very good performance is likely to get us anything.”