David Martindale insists James Penrice’s commitment to Livingston can’t be called into question, despite the defender being free to talk to other clubs.
Penrice is in the last six months of his contract at Livingston and the 25-year-old has been linked with Hearts, Hibernian and clubs in England.
The left-back could sign a pre-contract deal now and move for nothing in the summer, leaving Livingston without a transfer fee after spending four years at the Tony Macaroni Arena.
Though the defender’s future is up in the air, Livingston boss Martindale says Penrice is giving every effort in the team’s fight to move from the bottom of the table, and revealed the player is even playing through injury.
“I knew of wee Penners for years,” Martindale said. “I know his mum and dad very well and he grew up in Livingston.
“I signed him when he was at Partick Thistle so I would like to think I’ve got a good relationship with him. I’ve been very tough on him over the years because I know the potential that he’s got.
“To be honest, James has been playing through injury to try and keep Livingston in the Premiership.
“I think it would have been very easy for him to say ‘Gaffer..’ (and sit games out) because he genuinely is injured, carrying a knock and has been playing through it.
“It’s a knock that he could have dipped himself out of the squad and I think that shows you the character and personality of James. It means a lot to him.
“So I’ve got no qualms about this (situation). It was the same with Nicky Devlin last year.
“Different people deal with it differently.”
Though Livingston have struggled in the Premiership this season, Martindale has been impressed with Penrice’s performance and is in no doubt that he will have caught the eye of others. However, he says he won’t entertain offers in the remaining hours of the January window, even if that means missing out on a fee.
“I think James is going to have a few options in the summer,” he said. “I think he’s been one of our stand-out players this season, in a poor season.
“I think he could go and play at a much higher level and he’ll have options in the summer.
“That’s kind of where we are. He’s not leaving Livingston in this window. The best solution for all parties would maybe be a pre-contract elsewhere and a transfer and loan back to Livingston to secure his services for that club but that looks as though it might not happen.
“I’m quite happy to put my trust in James. I know he’s going to give it everything he’s got to try and help keep us in the league.
“So I don’t think it’ll have an adverse effect.”
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