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Analysis: Ross County will hope a hectic January transfer window pays off

Derek Adams made seven additions to the Staggies' squad, with eight players moving on.

Ross County where Donald Munro was a groundsman.
Ross County assemble a huddle prior to their match against Livingston. Image: SNS

Derek Adams has wasted little time in giving Ross County’s January recruits their opportunity to impress.

Adams’ first transfer window since returning for a third spell as Staggies boss came to a close on Thursday, with seven new faces to show for it.

County were active until the final hours of the window, with the signing of former Grimsby Town right back Michee Etefe.

In doing so, Etefe became their only permanent capture of the month on a deal until the end of the season.

Ross County manager Derek Adams. Image: Shutterstock.

Adams initially looked to the loan market, with George Wickens and Eli King in place by the time County returned from the winter break with a thud in their Scottish Cup defeat to Partick Thistle.

New faces blooded straight into side

Come the Staggies’ first Premiership fixture following the restart against Celtic last weekend, Brandon Khela, Cameron Borthwick-Jackson, Teddy Jenks and Loick Ayina were added to the mix.

Adams’ team selection at Parkhead immediately grabbed attention – as all six reinforcements were thrown straight into the starting line-up.

Three days later, the Staggies boss picked the same 11 for the trip to Livingston, with the new faces largely showing up well across the two games.

Ross County’s Teddy Jenks in action against Celtic. Image: PA

Adams was clearly desperate to freshen up his squad, and bring competition for places.

While it could be interpreted as a strong message to the players he already had at his disposal, a closer look at the treatment table shows the Staggies boss has had little choice but to bleed his new recruits straight in.

By far Adams’ boldest call so far has been to replace first-choice goalkeeper Ross Laidlaw with on-loan Fulham youngster Wickens, with Laidlaw having played every Premiership fixture prior to the winter break, and drawn widespread plaudits for his performances over a sustained period of time.

Celtic’s Joe Hart congratulates George Wickens on his performance for Ross County. Image: SNS

Wickens has grasped his opportunity however, with a memorable double penalty save against Celtic at Parkhead on his league debut.

Injury concerns mounting for Staggies

Laidlaw is now sidelined with a calf injury in any case, which has prompted the emergency recall of Logan Ross from his loan spell at Brora Rangers.

His absence adds to a raft of injury issues which are already facing the Staggies boss.

Scott Allardice, Connor Randall and Dylan Smith will be sidelined for several weeks as they require operations, while defenders Jack Baldwin and Ryan Leak remain injured – along with long-term absentee Ross Callachan.

Adams also allowed a number of players to depart, with midfielders Kyle Turner and Adam MacKinnon joining Championship sides Raith Rovers and Arbroath respectively on loan deals.

Striker Alex Samuel was loaned to Caley Thistle, and Matthew Wright will spend the remainder of the campaign with Brechin City.

Alex Samuel celebrates his hat-trick for Caley Thistle against Raith Rovers. Image: SNS

Leaving the club permanently was Ben Purrington, who joined Exeter City, goalkeeper Ross Munro who moved to Irish side Dundalk, while youngster Ryan MacLeman made his switch to Elgin City permanent. Scott High’s loan deal from Huddersfield was also cut short.

One of the most significant moves of the transfer window was holding on to midfielder Yan Dhanda. Although he has agreed to join Hearts in the summer, the influential Englishman could still have a major role to play before the end of the campaign.

Yan Dhanda in action for Ross County. Image: SNS

With so many players moving on, coupled with the doubt over when members of the squad will return from injury, Adams will be all the more eager to see his new recruits hit the ground running in the weeks to come.


George Wickens – Fulham – loan

Brandon Khela – Birmingham City – loan

Eli King – Cardiff City – loan

Cameron Borthwick-Jackson – Slask Wroclaw – loan

Teddy Jenks – Forest Green Rovers – loan

Loick Ayina – Huddersfield Town – loan

Michee Efete – Grimsby Town – loan


Scott High – Huddersfield Town – end of loan

Kyle Turner – Raith Rovers – loan

Ben Purrington – Exeter City – undisclosed

Adam MacKinnon – Arbroath – loan

Alex Samuel – Caley Thistle – loan

Ross Munro – Dundalk – undisclosed

Ryan MacLeman – Elgin City – free

Matthew Wright – Brechin City – loan