Shire look to replace departing Buddies

Jamie McKernon has decided to return to St Mirren.
Jamie McKernon has decided to return to St Mirren.
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John Coughlin’s plans for moving East Stirlingshire away from the bottom end of the Third Division table were dealt another blow when defender Jordan Holt turned down an offer to stay until the end of the season.

The Welsh youth international will return to St Mirren when his current loan expires in a few weeks time despite Coughlin’s pleas for him to stay.

Fellow Buddie Jamie McKernon had already told Shire he would not be back after his three month emergency transfer ran out, all of which leaves Coughlin with a serious headache.

“At this time of year you see players leaving every club,” said the Shire boss. “But, generally speaking, they are guys who clubs consider surplus to requirements. In Jamie and Jordan we are losing two who would play every week and we will need to replace them.”

He could lose even more. Coughlin is still hoping to persuade Andy Stirling to put pen to paper in time for Saturday’s game with Montrose. The midfielder signed a month-long contract in January but that expires today (Thursday) and unless terms can be agreed he could move on.

“Andy came to us originally just to keep fit over the Christmas period before he returned to the United States where he is a student,” said Coughlin. “But he then changed his plans and now is not due back in the States until the middle of April.

“It would be great if he would commit to us until then but, as with most things in life, it is whether or not we can reach agreement over money. Andy is a clever player and not the kind we can simply allow to go somewhere else without it having a negative impact on us.”

Stirling is not the only Shire player whose future with the club needs resolution. Craig Donaldson’s loan spell at Bo’ness runs out at the weekend and the coach is keen to get the player back into his first team squad. “By the time Saturday has come round he will have played four games at Bo’ness. The original idea was to give him those games for some match sharpness then ease him back in the squad with a view to starting him.

“We need to know whether our plan has worked and if we now have a player who is ready to resume his season with us. We are working hard to find out the answers and it goes without saying that if we have a fit Craig Donaldson, in the right frame of mind, then we will have added a quality player who can help us climb the league table.”

It’s not all bad news. Nathan Shepherd has resumed training and has shown no negative reaction to his knee injury. Mark Begg’s foot injury is showing signs of improvement and Jamie Benton is now back training.

That said, it may be that Saturday’s trip to Links Park may just come too soon for all three.

Coughlin also has former Stranraer and Rangers striker, Max Wright, on trial and will include him for the Montrose match and next Tuesday’s crucial clash with Stirling Albion.