BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
ALLAN JOHNSTON insists he is “hopeful” of extending the loan deals of John Herron and Paul McMullan after hailing the duo for playing a pivotal role in Dunfermline’s resurgence.
The Pars have moved to within six points of the Championship playoff places following an unbeaten run of seven matches, capped by Monday afternoon’s comprehensive Fife derby triumph against Raith Rovers.
Herron, who is on loan from Blackpool, has emerged as a key figure in the heart of midfield during that sequence, while Celtic starlet McMullan has turned in a series of dazzling displays on the left-flank, scoring three goals in the process.
However, with their current deals due to expire at the end of this month, Johnston has made securing the services of the in-form pair until the end of the season one of his top priorities in this transfer window.
Johnston said: “We are talking to Blackpool about John Herron at the moment, and we are in a similar situation with Paul McMullan, so there are a lot of things to tie up during January.
“If you look at John [Herron’s] record, then you will see we have won the majority of matches he has played in. That is no coincidence, it shows what a big influence he is on the team.
“And in the last six or seven weeks, Paul [McMullan] has been fantastic. He has come into his own, with energy, pace and he excites the crowd. Both players have done really well so we’ll be looking to get something sorted.
“We have both players until the end of January before a decision needs to be made. We are hopeful at this stage, we are working hard on it, so fingers crossed it gets tied up.”
Uncertainty also surrounds the future of Farid El Alagui, whose deal comes up for renewal on January 23.
The French-Moroccan striker has not started a match for the Fifers since the 1-1 draw against Ayr United on December 3 and has slipped behind the likes of Michael Moffat, Nicky Clark and Gavin Reilly in the attacking pecking order.
He continued: “We are still to make a final decision on Farid. It comes down to a few factors, and both sides have an option [to extend the contract], so we will wait to see what the best way forward is on that.”