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Livingston

Summary of last season – Livi were a real mixed bag last year. They never did have quite enough to properly challenge for playoff places at the top of the league but similarly they were never in really danger of being relegated. They started the season with Richie Burke in charge but he quickly departed the club and in September former Hearts manager John McGlynn was given the job of manager. A large turnover in players used meant that Livingston were very inconsistent last term but John McGlynn did manage to steady the ship to make sure that there was never any danger of having to fight a relegation battle and they finished the season in 6th place. At the end of the campaign it was announced that standout youngster Mark McNulty was to leave the club for a new career at Sheffield United.

Players in – Gary Glen (Striker, Ross County), David Robertson (Midfielder, Greenock Morton), Declan Gallagher (Defender, Dundee), Myles Hippolyte (Striker, Brentford), Jordan White (Striker, Stirling Albion), Rob Ogleby (Striker, Wrexham), Bradley Donaldson (Defender, Hibernian), Michael McKenna (Midfielder, Musselburgh Athletic).

Players out – Marc McNulty (Sheffield United, undisclosed), Martin Scott (Raith Rovers),  Andrew Barrowman (Greenock Morton), Kyle Turnbull (Albion Rovers), Players released – Michal Habai, Nejc Mevlja, Mike Mampuya, Kyle Wilkie, Ross Docherty, Jordan Baillie, Taylor Black, David Bonnar, Dylan Clark, Jed Davie, Jack Downie, George Hunter, Kyle Martin, Scott Wilson

What they still need – At the moment it seems as though John McGlynn is reasonably happy with the squad he has. The team does still need a little bit of cover in certain areas but it does look fairly balanced and there are options around the park. They could do with a little extra defensive cover and a versatile defender would add depth to the squad. Possibly in the middle of the park they are still a little light so could also use an extra body in there. It might be the case that January will be an important time depending on how Livi start the season. Fans will hope that the squad is a little more settled this year and that they can get a bit more consistency in the team.

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New signing Declan Gallagher.

Key player(s) – Of all the signings that the club have made over the summer there is one that stands out. Former Dundee defender Declan Gallagher has signed on with Livingston this year and he will be one of the stars in this side. A commanding central defender he was a key part of the Dundee team that won last the Championship last year and he will feel as though he could have been a part of the Dundee side in the Premiership. There have been some well documented off-the-field issues in Gallagher’s personal life but if there is one man that can help keep a young player like Gallagher focused it is John McGlynn. Playing right behind Gallagher is one of the division’s best young goalkeepers. Darren Jamieson is a local lad who has risen through the Livingston youth ranks to become the team’s undoubted number one. He put is some fantastic performances last year and despite the odd dip in form he is a young goalkeeper with a great future.

Opinion on Livingston – John McGlynn is an experienced coach and will know what needs to be done to perform in this division. It is a very unique season in the Championship this year with three heavyweights being added to the league so Livingston will have to really be switched in if they are to perform well this year. The club will be one of a number of sides that will really benefit from large crowds visiting from (in particular) Edinburgh so the board will be pleased in the business side of things. On the park it looks like there will be a massive challenge ahead and it remains to be seen if losing their star striker will mean Livi can still score the goals to ensure they are safe in the division. Livingston have not invested heavily in their squad and in a season where they are guaranteed a few big pay days the fans would maybe have liked a bit more investment in the playing staff.

Prediction for this season – 8th

 

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Queen of the South

Summary of last season – Queens finished fourth last year but it could have been (and possibly should have been) so much better. If it was not for some pretty horrible early season form then they would have been challenging for the title itself. For a time last year it did look like the early form could have spelled the end for manager Jim McIntyre but as the season went on the performances improved and they did manage to achieve a playoff place. They lost that playoff to Falkirk  but the season as a whole was a success despite some poor early results. One thing that did make a difference last campaign was the fact that Queens turned into an incredibly difficult team to beat. They had a very good defensive record last season and they managed to see games out when they were ahead.

Players in – James Fowler (Defender/Coach, Kilmarnock), John Baird (Striker, Raith Rovers), Lewis Kidd (Defender/Midfielder, Celtic), Zander Clark (Goalkeeper – Loan, St Johnstone)

Players out – Derek Young (Forfar Athletic), Calum Antell (Free), Bob McHugh (End of Loan)

What they still need – Hats off to Jim McIntyre. This will be a massive season in the Championship and in preparation for that he has tied up his transfer business incredibly early in order to work with the squad for as long as he can. The team has been kept intact and McIntyre has added some key players to the squad to keep things fresh. For now the side looks complete and there are enough options in the squad so Queens can make changes in both personnel and tactically. Having a settled team and squad is rare so it is refreshing to see a team do things differently.

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James Fowler can play across the back four and in midfield.

Key player(s) – The fans will be delighted to see the return of a player that made a real difference last season. Zander Clark is on loan from St.Johnstone and the young goalkeeper is well like by the Queen of the South fans for good reason. His arrival last year coincided with the improvement in form and he is an excellent young prospect. Someone else that will make an impact this year both on and off the pitch is James Fowler. It might be a bit of a surprise choosing him is a key player but he will bring a wealth of experience to this side at an important time and he is also going to play a major role in the coaching setup at the club. Kilmarnock fans think he could have still done a job for them so to get a player like Fowler is a shrewd piece of business for Queen of the South.

Opinion on Queen of the South – It looks like it might be a straight race between Queens and Falkirk for 4th spot this year. With the ‘big three’ in the league it will be very difficult for teams to break into that group so the challenge is to try and secure that final playoff spot. It is so crucial that McIntyre gets his side off to a better start this year. Queens showed last season that once they have a bit of momentum behind them they can win games very well but they will have to improve their results against the better teams in the league, something they really struggled with last season. Right now it looks like they have a better squad than the majority of the league but it might be the performances against Falkirk, Rangers, Hearts and Hibs that will ultimately tell just how good they could be.

Prediction for this season – 5th

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