Livi boss Martindale keen to strengthen defence in January window

Livingston are currently bottom of the Premiership after a poor run of results.

Livingston boss David Martindale keen to strengthen defence in January window SNS Group

David Martindale is looking to strengthen his defence in January as he feels a lack of cohesion at centre-back has been a major factor in Livingston’s slide to the foot of the Premiership.

Injuries to experienced duo Ayo Obileye and Michael Nottingham have prevented the Lions boss getting his preferred back line on the pitch, while he revealed on Wednesday that captain Michael Devlin has been playing with a broken hand sustained in the defeat at Kilmarnock a month ago – a result that sparked a five-game losing run.

Obileye and Nottingham are both closing in on being match-ready but Martindale feels he will probably need to bolster his defence in the upcoming window.

“It’s one area I’m looking at,” he said. “If I had everybody in the building fit, I’d be OK. I recruited Michael Nottingham and Mick Devlin to change the shape and help with the weaknesses I felt we had last year.

“At the start of the season we had choice and squad depth in that defensive area but I think that’s been lacking over the last six or seven games.

“Mick’s been playing with a broken hand since the Kilmarnock game, he’s been playing with a brace on, and because of injuries I’ve been shuffling the personnel either side of him.

“Mick came in as a right centre-back but when Ayo got injured, he’s had to move into the central position. It’s the one area of the park I don’t like shuffling my players.

“I want to build relationships and get continuity in my defensive line. It’s an area we’re looking to strengthen in January but again if we had everybody fit and available, I don’t think we’d have a problem in that area.”

Nottingham is set to be in the squad for this weekend’s Premiership trip to St Mirren and Martindale feels the injury-plagued 34-year-old is close to being ready to play on a more regular basis after being restricted to just three outings since his summer arrival from Accrington.

“I’ve looked at the (international) break as an opportunity to try and get certain players back, which we’re not a million miles away from doing,” the Lions boss said.

“Big Nottsy has been back training, which is a huge positive for us, and Ayo trained yesterday (Tuesday) so we’ll see what the reaction is.

“I recruited Notts for his experience and his defensive capabilities. He’s a huge threat in both boxes and he’s got a long throw.

“We put him on at Dundee (earlier this month) and he had two very good headers in the opposition box, so he’s a huge player for us in terms of set-plays for and against.

“He missed pre-season and he’s had knocks and niggles because of the injury he had last season so, when you factor in his age, it’s very difficult to get back up to fitness, but he’s had two good training weeks and he’ll be available for the squad on Saturday.”

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