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Livingston season preview: A testing time ahead for Gary Holt

© SNSLivingston manager Gary Holt
Livingston manager Gary Holt

Gary Holt, one of the most-amiable figures in Scottish football, will be doing well if he can keep his side smiling as they try to cope with the loss of their leading defensive stars.

Transfers

In: Marvin Bartley, Aymen Souda, Ibrahima Savane, Robbie Crawford, Nicky Devlin, Cece Pepe.

Out: Craig Halkett, Declan Gallagher, Liam Kelly, Shaun Byrne, Nicky Cadden, Callum Crane, Matthew Knox, Cameron Clark, Dolly Menga, Henk van Schaik.

Imagine Liverpool having to head into the new season robbed of the services of Virgil van Dijk, Alisson and Andy Robertson, and you have a fair summary of the lay of the land for the Lions.

Gone are skipper Craig Halkett, off to Hearts, Declan Gallagher, snapped up by Motherwell, and highly-rated goalkeeper Liam Kelly, who has gone south to join Queens Park Rangers.

The defensive trio were a huge part of the reason Premiership rivals found Livi so hard to beat last season. Their loss is not being under underplayed by anyone at the Tony Macaroni Stadium.

In their absence, Alan Lithgow – part of the club’s rise from League One to the Premiership – has been made captain.

The 31-year-old will be partnered in central defence by former Marseille and Paris Saint-Germain youth Cece Pepe (22). Also new is Matija Sarkic, the Montengro Under-21 keeper who has signed on loan from Aston Villa.

Leading contender to become a fans favourite from the new faces, though, is Aymen Souda.

The French-Tunisian, who until recently played his football in the Romanian top flight, is an attacking midfielder who loves to drive at opponents and is full of tricks.

And if there will be a few sad to see the departure of Dolly Menga back to his native Angola, the arrival of Lyndon Dykes, who signed in January but stayed at Queen of the South on loan, provides a fresh striking option.

TARGET

For a club of Livi’s size and stature, retaining their place in Scotland’s top flight has to be the aim at the start of every season.

With the likes of Souda on board they will look to keep their fans entertained along the way.