Brian Irvine believes bringing Tom Grivosti back to Ross County could be a winning move for the Staggies this month.
The young defender, who has recovered from long-term injuries, has been on loan with League Two Elgin City, where he’s made 13 appearances, gaining valuable competitive game time.
With loan star Harry Clarke recalled by his parent club Arsenal for an expected move to Scottish Premiership side Hibs and Coll Donaldson going on loan to Championship Dunfermline, County boss Malky Mackay needs to plug gaps at the back.
Grivosti may be ‘like a new signing’
Talks between Grivosti and the club are planned to plot the next stage of his development, be it at County, Elgin City or another SPFL club.
Former Staggies stopper Irvine is confident 22-year-old Grivosti – who he saw flourish when he worked at the club’s academy – could offer an immediate remedy for the Dingwall team.
He said: “This could be a big period for Tom – the opening he’s been waiting for.
“A couple of defenders moving out offers a clearer way for him to go back to County. He’s done really well at Elgin and he’s helped steady the ship there.
“Being at the bottom end of League Two, he’ll have got plenty of defensive practise at Elgin. Their 1-0 win against Forfar on Sunday, a side second top in the league, was a big one for them.
“I have always been impressed with Tom. I was at County’s academy when he was coming through and breaking into the first-team.
“The injuries were a set-back for him and it has been a test of his resilience. I would hope he has that character and resilience that will make him a better player.
“He’s an excellent player who was doing so well before his injuries.
“If he is able to come back and be as good as he was, it really would be like a new signing. He can play right-back or centre back, so he could be the ideal cover for Harry moving away.”
Clarke going to Hibs will be sore one
Rising talent Clarke, 20, eased into life in the Highlands and, as well and meeting defensive duties without fear, scored three goals in 17 appearances this term.
Like many who have watched Clarke closely, Irvine has been impressed by Clarke’s quality and admits his departure from Dingwall will be a sore one.
He added: “Harry is a big loss. He’s a strong defender who has chipped in with goals and is good going forward.
“The loan agreement is, of course, open to the parent club.
“However, the fact Arsenal have recalled him not to return to them but to go to Hibs is sore for County, for him to join a rival. He’s been one of their best players and he’s been snapped away from them.
“I am sure there will be players coming in. Chairman Roy MacGregor and County in general are usually pretty active in the transfer window.
“They will have to bring in a few players and certainly will need to replace Harry, because I’ve been impressed when I’ve seen him this season.
“The first wave of news for County isn’t positive, with Harry going and Coll Donaldson going on loan.
“Although Coll’s not been playing much, it’s another player moving out.
“Malky is obviously well connected in England and he’ll have plans B and C at hand. There will be players coming in. We can speculate now, but we will find out when they make signings.
“County fans will be looking forward to hearing of those coming in and I’m sure they will mainly be loan signings for now.”
County lift gives them fighting chance
Former Aberdeen star Irvine, who won the 1990 Scottish Cup for the Dons, played for County for four years until 2003.
Irvine reckons County’s recent rise off the bottom of the table to 10th spot before the winter break offers supporters real hope in the new year.
He said: “It wasn’t looking good when they were bottom. There is a long way to go, of course, but the table at this time of year is often not far away from how it ends up.
“County have done really well to move off the bottom and are playing with a bit of momentum.
“The loan players are really clicking now and it’s all coming to fruition for Malky. They have some tough games coming up, but you now think County can get results in any given week.
“There is a more optimistic outlook at County right now. They have worked hard on the training ground and on the park to get the results. There is a genuine hope for fans now.
“It will still be a long haul ahead, but they have the players on the park to keep clear of the bottom and they will look for one or two players to come in and replace those who are moving on in the window.”
County are training at the Oriam Performance Centre in Edinburgh this week, having scrapped plans of working out in Spain due to current Covid restrictions, which also sees ground capacities capped at 500.
Mackay’s men resume their Premiership climb on Tuesday, January 18 at home to fourth-placed Motherwell, just four days before an all-Premiership trip to Livingston in the Scottish Cup.