Scottish Championship ins and outs - Summer 2017

Dundee United's Scott McDonald and Paul McMullan
Scott McDonald and Paul McMullan have joined Dundee United

Downsizing has been the name of the game for most clubs in the Scottish Championship now that Hibernian have taken their delayed exit back to the top flight along with their sizeable support.

Thanks to the sale of Stevie Mallan to Barnsley, St Mirren have been able to afford significant changes for a second transfer window running, while Dundee United have done likewise despite continued question marks about the finances at Tannadice.

Scott McDonald's move to United from Motherwell was the most headline-grabbing signing made by a Championship club this summer, albeit the Australia striker is in the twilight of his career. After topping a League Cup group containing Premiership city rivals Dundee, Ray McKinnon's side should be strong favourites for the title.

Falkirk, who ended up as Hibs' main challengers last season, have not been as active, but they romped their League Cup group and could have been expecting to be involved in a two-horse race at the top of the table until their poor start to the league season.

Dunfermline Athletic midfielder Dean Shiels
Dean Shiels has joined Dunfermline Athletic after a spell with Edmonton in Canada

St Mirren could mount their own challenge after a fine finish to the last campaign as Jack Ross steered them clear of relegation, while hard-up Dunfermline Athletic could be dark horses after beating Premiership Hearts to the top of their League Cup section.

Relegated Inverness Caledonian Thistle could be too busy rebuilding via the bargain basement under returned manager John Robertson to mount any more than a challenge for a play-off place, but David Hopkin's Livingston are shaping up well to build on their romp to the League One title.

Greenock Morton have done little in the summer market to suggest they can arrest an alarming late-season slump to again secure a play-off place, while Queen of the South brought in Chris Kane from St Johnstone to make sure they did not have to rely on golden oldie goal machine Stephen Dobbie spearheading their season.

Poor League Cup results suggest that Dumbarton's turnaround in staff is unlikely to save them from another struggle against the drop, with fellow part-timers Brechin City are strong favourites to fill bottom spot after sneaking through the play-offs with two penalty shoot-out victories.

Brechin City

Brechin City

Darren Dods' part-timers probably surprised even themselves by winning promotion through the play-offs after finishing fourth in League One and securing their first visit to the second tier in 11 years.

They have lost some experienced campaigners, like midfielder Alan Trouten, and recruited from players previously operating in the leagues below. Former Alloa Athletic striker Isaac Layne is probably the best known, but Ryan McGeever could be the most astute signing considering his nine goals out of defence in two seasons with Queen's Park.

In: Euan Spark, defender (Dunfermline Athletic); Jordan Sinclair, midfielder (Livingston); Sean Crighton, defender (Livingston); Kalvin Orsi, midfielder (St Mirren); Isaac Layne, forward (Grays Athletic); Ryan McGeever, defender (Queen's Park). Loan: Connor McLennan, forward (Aberdeen).

Out: Dougie Hill, defender (Dumbarton); Alan Trouten, midfielder (Albion Rovers); Gareth Rodgers, defender (Edinburgh City); Ross Caldwell, forward; Darren McCormack, defender.

Manager: Darren Dods (appointed June 2015)

Last season: 4th, League One.

Prediction: 10th.

Dumbarton

Dumbarton

The Sons have been confounding the critics for five seasons now since winning promotion to the Championship. Despite continuing to be part-time, they have steered clear of even the relegation play-off spot and, in Stevie Aitken, have a manager who might have been pinched by a top-tier club by now did it not suit him financially to have a job outside football.

They have lost some experience, such as former Scotland Under-21 goalkeeper Alan Martin, but in Craig Johnston, Tom Walsh and Kyle Hutton they have added midfielders with top-flight experience who will add quality if Aitken can inspire them to rekindle their early-career promise.

In: David Wilson, midfielder (Partick Thistle); Dimitris Froxylias, midfielder (Ermis Aradippou); Danny Handling, forward (Hibernian); Scott Gallacher, goalkeeper (Hibernian); Chris Johnston, midfielder (Raith Rovers); Andy Dowie, defender (Queen of the South); Mark Stewart, forward (Raith Rovers); Kyle Hutton, midfielder (St Mirren); Chris McLaughlin, defender (Ross County); Dougie Hill, defender (Brechin City); Tom Walsh, midfielder (Limerick); Craig Barr, defender (Raith Rovers). Loan: Ally Roy, forward (Hearts); Sam Wardrop, defender (Celtic); Greg Morrison, forward (Ross County).

Out: Alan Martin, goalkeeper (Queen of the South); Gregor Buchanan, defender (St Mirren); Andy Stirling, midfielder (Queen of the South); Darren Barr, defender (retired); Garry Fleming, forward (Alloa Athletic); Mark Docherty, defender (East Fife); Tom Lang, defender (Stranraer). Loan ended: Ross McCrorie, defender (Rangers).

Manager: Stevie Aitken (appointed May 2015)

Last season: 8th

Prediction: 9th

Dundee United

Dundee United

Having missed out on promotion in his first season as Tannadice boss, the pressure is on Ray McKinnon this time as, without Hibs in the division, they have by far the biggest playing budget. With another transfer window behind him, yet more familiar faces have gone and the squad is barely recognisable compared to what he inherited from Mixu Paatelainen.

This summer, he has brought in players who have proven they can perform at this level, or higher, and Scott McDonald, in particular, should be an astute replacement for Hibs-bound Simon Murray despite the Australian striker's advancing years.

James Keatings could be their lucky charm as the striker seeks his fourth promotion in a row with four different clubs after leaving Hibs.

In: Scott McDonald, forward (Motherwell); Tam Scobbie, defender (St Johnstone); Billy King, midfielder (Hearts); Paul Quinn, defender (Ross County); James Keatings, forward (Hibernian); Fraser Fyvie, midfielder (Hibernian); Paul McMullan, midfielder (Celtic); Patrick N'Koyi, forward (Maastricht); Jordie Briels, midfielder (Fortuna Sittard); Deniz Mehmet, goalkeeper (Port Vale); Joe Piggott, forward (Rochdale). Loan: Harry Lewis, goalkeeper (Southampton); Sam Stanton, midfielder (Hibernian).

Out: Simon Murray, forward (Hibernian); Blair Spittal, midfielder (Partick Thistle); Cammy Bell, goalkeeper (Kilmarnock); Luis Zwick, goalkeeper (Hansa Rostock); Coll Donaldson, defender (Inverness Caledonian Thistle); Sean Dillon, defender (Montrose); Aaron Murrell, forward (Berwick Rangers); Brad Smith, midfielder (Cowdenbeath); Paul Dixon, defender; Charlie Telfer, midfielder; Frank van der Struijk, defender; Wato Kuate, midfielder; Jordan Garden, forward. Loan ended: Tony Andreu, midfielder (Norwich City); Thomas Mikkelsen, forward (Odense); Alex Nicholls, midfielder (Barnet); Brett Long, goalkeeper (Motherwell). Loan: Cammy Ballantyne, defender (Montrose).

Manager: Ray McKinnon (appointed May 2016)

Last season: 3rd

Prediction: 1st

Dunfermline Athletic

Dunfermline Athletic

Money is tight at East End Park and the Pars are one of the clubs that have ditched their development squad this season.

They have lost fleet-of-foot loan men Paul McMullan and Gavin Reilly, who have ended up at Championship rivals Dundee United and St Mirren respectively. However, striker Declan McManus and midfielder Dean Shiels have both impressed at this level previously and the latter could provide the midfield creativity that the Pars lacked last season.

In: Andy Ryan, forward (Airdrieonians, undisclosed); Dean Shiels, midfielder (Edmonton); Declan McManus, forward (Fleetwood Town); Jean-Yves M'Voto, defender (Raith Rovers); Fraser Aird, midfielder (Falkirk); Aaron Splaine, midfielder (Kilmarnock).

Out: Lewis Spence, midfielder (Dundee); Rhys McCabe, midfielder (Sligo Rovers); Callum Fordyce, defender (Queen of the South); Euan Spark, defender (Brechin City); Michael Moffat, forward (Ayr United); Andy Geggan, midfielder (Ayr United); David Hutton, goalkeeper (Arbroath); Ben Richards-Everton, defender; Reece Duncan, defender; Evan Horne, midfielder; Johnny Galloway, midfielder; Robbie Crawford, midfielder. Loan ended: Paul McMullan, forward (Celtic); Gavin Reilly, forward (Hearts). Loan: Stuart Morrison, defender (Edinburgh City); Brandon Luke, midfielder (Annan Athletic).

Manager: Allan Johnston (appointed May 2015)

Last season: 5th

Prediction: 3rd

Falkirk

Falkirk

Bairns boss Peter Houston will again be asked to sustain a title challenge with minimal additions to his squad.

Rory Loy, who was on loan to league rivals St Mirren last season, has come in to replace strikers John Baird and Bob McHugh, who will be in opposition with Inverness Caledonian Thistle and Greenock Morton respectively.

Perhaps more crucially, Houston has lost quality on the left in the shape of Luke Leahy, who has joined Walsall. However, Craig Sibbald signed a new contract after a trial with Luton Town but with no club willing to pay a compensation fee for the young midfielder.

In: Rory Loy, forward (Dundee); Jordan McGhee, defender (Hearts); Alex Harris, midfielder (Hibernian); David Mitchell, goalkeeper (Dundee); Robbie Mutch, goalkeeper (Aberdeen); Conrad Balatoni, defender (Ayr United).

Out: John Baird, forward (Inverness Caledonian Thistle); Bob McHugh, forward (Greenock Morton); Luke Leahy, midfielder (Walsall); Fraser Aird, midfielder (Dunfermline Athletic); David McCracken, defender (Peterhead); Lewis McMinn, goalkeeper (Stenhousemuir); Cameron Eadie, defender (Elgin City); Kyle Johnson, defender; Cameron Eadie, defender. Loan ended: Danny Rogers, goalkeeper (Aberdeen).

Manager: Peter Houston (appointed June 2014)

Last season: 2nd

Prediction: 2nd

Greenock Morton

Morton

Jim Duffy has worked wonders on a limited budget and Morton were up challenging for promotion until fading late last season because of a lack of strength in depth.

Young players from the Premiership on loan have this summer been replaced with tried and trusted Championship performers and Duffy will be hoping that former Falkirk striker Bob McHugh can sustain his League Cup scoring form into the league campaign.

In: Bob McHugh, forward (Falkirk); Gary Harkins, midfielder (Ayr United); Connor McManus, midfielder (Celtic); Jack Iredale, defender (ECU Joondalup). Loan: Ross Doohan, goalkeeper (Celtic).

Out: Kudus Oyenuga, forward (Chelmsford City); Conor Pepper, midfielder; Jon Scullion, midfielder; Jamie McDonagh, forward; Jake Maxwell; Sean Keegan. Loan ended: Aidan Nesbitt, midfielder (Celtic); Jamie Lindsay, midfielder (Celtic); Lawrence Shankland, forward (Aberdeen); Luke Donnelly, forward (Alloa Athletic); Bryn Halliwell, goalkeeper (Gartcairn). Loan: Jack Iredale, defender (Queen's Park); Lewis Strapp, defender (Elgin City); Jamie McGowan, goalkeeper (Troon); David Anderson, midfielder (Johnstone Burgh); Ben Eardley, midfielder (Greenock Juniors); Scott Miller, forward (Clydebank).

Manager: Jim Duffy (appointed May 2014)

Last season: 4th

Prediction: 7th

Inverness Caledonian Thistle

Inverness Caledonian Thistle

In his second spell as Caley Thistle boss, John Robertson has been to some obscure corners of England and the European mainland to reshape the squad inherited from Richie Foran.

Collin Seedorf is the best known - but only because the defender last with Waalwijk is the nephew of former Dutch international Clarence. Midfielder Riccardo Calder had a previous spell in Scotland with Dundee on loan from Aston Villa, but his last port of call was with Lincoln City in the National League.

Connor Bell is an Englishman who has spent the last year in Servette's Under-21 squad after nine goals in 26 games for Rhyl in the Welsh Premier. Meanwhile, it's going to be fun listening to the BBC commentary team get their tongues round the name of fellow striker Felitciano Zschusschen, a Dutch-born Curacao international who was with Saarbrucken in the German third tier.

It may take time for Caley Thistle's coat of many colours to weave its magic in the Scottish Championship, if it ever does.

In: John Robertson, manager; Charlie Trafford, midfielder (RoPS); Zachary Elbouzedi, midfielder (West Bromwich Albion); John Baird, forward (Falkirk); Mark Ridgers, goalkeeper (Partick Thistle); Joe Chalmers, defender (Motherwell); Riccardo Calder, midfielder (Aston Villa); Collin Seedorf, defender (Waalwijk); Coll Donaldson, defender (Dundee United); George Oakley, forward (AFC Wimbledon); Felitciano Zschusschen, forward (Saarbrucken); Connor Bell, forward (Servette); Alex Cooper, midfielder (East Fife). Loan: Matthew Elsdon, defender (Middlesbrough).

Out: Richie Foran, manager; Ross Draper, midfielder (Ross County, £100,000); Greg Tansey, midfielder (Aberdeen); Alex Fisher, forward (Motherwell); Josh Meekings, defender (Dundee); Henri Anier, forward (Lahti); Kevin McNaughton, defender (retired); Louis Laing, defender (Hartlepool United); Scott Boden, forward (Wrexham); Jason Brown, defender (Peterhead); Lewis Horner, defender; Dean Ebbe, forward. Loan ended: Billy Mckay, forward (Wigan Athletic); Billy King, midfielder (Hearts); Larnell Cole, forward (Fulham). Loan: Daniel Hoban, goalkeeper (Brora Rangers); Stephen Foster, goalkeeper (Nairn County); Aidan Wilson, forward (Wick Academy); Alasdair Stark, defender (Wick Academy).

Manager: John Robertson (appointed June 2017)

Last season: 10th, Premiership

Prediction: 6th

Livingston

Livingston

Livingston have added former Motherwell youth Dylan Mackin and Josh Peters, who had a spell with Hibs, as they look to ensure they compensate for the loss of Liam Buchanan, whose 27 strikes last season helped the West Lothian side win League One but who himself stayed in the division with relegated Raith Rovers.

But former Hearts forward Dale Carrick topped the scoring charts as Livi won their League Cup group ahead of Premiership outfit Partick Thistle and Peters, still only 20, was sent back on loan to former club Forfar Athletic, where he scored 16 goals to help the Loons win promotion from League Two last season.

However, the return of veteran former Rangers and Hearts goalkeeper Neil Alexander could be the most significant addition.

In: Neil Alexander, goalkeeper (Aberdeen); Dylan Mackin, forward (Motherwell); Scott Robinson, midfielder (East Fife); Ross Brown, midfielder (East Fife); Josh Peters, forward (Forfar Athletic). Loan: Nikolay Todorov, forward (Hearts). Loan: Joe Thomson, midfielder (Celtic); James Penrice, defender (Partick Thistle); Jack McMillan, defender (Motherwell).

Out: Sean Crighton, defender (Brechin City); Jordan Sinclair, midfielder (Brechin City); Liam Buchanan, forward (Raith Rovers); Morgyn Neill, defender (Stranraer). Loan ended: Charlie Telfer, midfielder (Dundee United); Craig Halkett, defender (Rangers); Liam Kelly, goalkeeper (Rangers). Loan: Josh Peters, forward (Forfar Athletic).

Head coach: David Hopkin (appointed December 2015)

Last season: 1st, League One

Prediction: 8th

Queen of the South

Queen of the South

Queens have lost some experienced players, as well as speedy wing man Dom Thomas, who was on loan from Motherwell and has moved to Kilmarnock.

The additions have been mainly young, inexperienced and limited - and new signing Alan Martin, the former Scotland Under-21 goalkeeper, could have another season battling to keep a side clear of relegation trouble rather than realising the Palmerston side's promotion play-off ambitions after his move from league rivals Dumbarton.

On the other hand, the acquisition of striker Chris Kane from St Johnstone could be an astute one that keeps Queens in the hunt for the play-offs.

In: James McFadden, forward (Motherwell); Alan Martin, goalkeeper (Dumbarton); Callum Fordyce, defender (Dunfermline Athletic); Andy Stirling, midfielder (Dumbarton); Shaun Rooney, defender (York City). Loan: Chris Kane, forward (St Johnstone); Jason Kerr, defender (St Johnstone).

Out: Andy Dowie, defender (Dumbarton); Dale Hilson, forward (St Mirren); Jamie Hamill, midfielder (Stranraer); Chris Higgins, defender (Ayr United); Scott Hooper, defender (Annan Athletic); Aidan Smith, forward (Annan Athletic); Jim Atkinson, goalkeeper (Annan Athletic); Owen Moxon, midfielder (Annan Athletic); Ayrton Sonkur, midfielder (Annan Athletic); Steven Rigg, midfielder; Dean Brotherston, forward; Richard Murray, defender; Jay McInally, defender; Shane Glean, defender; Cameron Copeland, goalkeeper; Sam Henderson, goalkeeper. Loan ended: Dom Thomas, forward (Motherwell); Connor McManus, midfielder (Celtic). Loan: Jack Iredale, defender (Queen's Park).

Manager: Gary Naysmith (appointed December 2016)

Last season: 6th

Prediction: 5th

St Mirren

St Mirren

Jack Ross' massive January overhaul finally dragged St Mirren clear of relegation trouble last season and it is not just the recruitment of two Ross Stewarts, both from Albion Rovers, that will have caused more confusion in the dressing room after another summer of personnel changes.

Despite the sale of midfield maestro Stevie Mallan to Barnsley, the Saints will be looking to join the battle at the other end of the table this time and central defender Gregor Buchanan, formerly of league rivals Dumbarton, could be one to blossom from the chance of full-time football.

In: Darryl Duffy, forward (Mohun Bagan); Craig Samson, goalkeeper (Motherwell); Ian McShane, midfielder (Ross County); Gavin Reilly, forward (Hearts); Cammy Smith, forward (Aberdeen); Gregor Buchanan, defender (Dumbarton); Lewis Morrison, forward (Kilmarnock); Harry Davis, defender (Crewe Alexandra, loan to permanent); Dale Hilson, forward (Queen of the South); Jordan Kirkpatrick, midfielder (Alloa Athletic); Ross Stewart, forward (Albion Rovers, undisclosed); Ross Stewart, goalkeeper (Albion Rovers, undisclosed). Loan: Liam Smith, defender (Hearts).

Out: Stephen Mallan, midfielder (Barnsley, undisclosed); Kyle Hutton, midfielder (Dumbarton); Kalvin Orsi, midfielder (Brechin City); Ben Gordon, defender (East Fife); Jordan Stewart, defender (Clyde). Loan ended: Rory Loy, forward (Dundee); Craig Storie, midfielder (Aberdeen). Loan: Nathan Flanagan, midfielder (East Fife).

Manager: Jack Ross (appointed October 2016)

Last season: 7th

Prediction: 4th

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