Livingston boss Gary Holt hails Efe Ambrose signing as a statement of intent – but admits he might not see out 18-month deal

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GARY HOLT admits there is no guarantee Efe Ambrose will see out the entirety of his 18-month deal at Livingston.

However, the Lions boss believes simply tempting the former Celtic and Hibernian defender to West Lothian is a sensational statement of intent.

Ambrose, 31, has signed up until the summer of 2021 but Holt played down the importance of the contract’s duration.

ttInstead, he is keen to focus solely on the wealth of experience and quality Ambrose will bring to the Lions, for however long his stay may be.

The Nigeria internationalist walked out on Hibs during his last stint in Scotland, exercising a release clause in January 2019 to join Derby.

“A contract’s a contract; it’s only a bit of paper,” said Holt. “We’re delighted we got it signed but Efe knows where we’re coming from and we know where he’s at.

“If we can get it longer, we’ll get it longer. If he wants to cut it short, we’ll cut it short.

“But am I delighted he’s here? 100 per cent. Can he grow and improve our club? Yes he will.

“Look at his career and his calibre – you don’t play Champions League football, win the African Cup of Nations or play in the World Cup if you don’t have qualities.”

Indeed, Holt concedes that he never imagined Livi would be able to snap up the classy stopper.

The parties were close to doing a deal in January but red tape scuppered the switch, while St Mirren also showed an interest in Ambrose.

However, Holt’s persistence paid off this week and Ambrose will be in the squad to face his former club Hibs on Saturday.

“You always think you probably won’t get someone of Efe’s quality,” continued Holt. “We had to work at it, convince him to come here and show him what we’re about. We said ‘let’s make a play’.

“Speaking as an ex-player, if someone shows you that love and desire and really wants you to be part of something, that goes a long way.”

Ambrose’s arrival is another boost in a wonderful campaign for the Lions.

Holt’s heroes are flying high in fifth spot, just four points adrift of the European places.

As they continue to upset the odds in the top-flight, it is astonishing to think they were in League One just three years ago.

“We don’t want to stand still,” said Holt of their progress. “We want to keep evolving and introducing players of a calibre and quality that in the dressing room, so they all think ‘I’ve got to up my game.’

“It’s about growing the club.We’ve got a long way to go, we know that and need to focus, but we have targets we want to hit and we want to keep pushing ourselves.

“Myself, the other staff, that players; we all want to come together to push this club as far as it can go.”

 
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