Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes admits he would be delighted if Derby County do an unexpected U-turn and sanction the return of left-back Max Lowe to Pittodrie.
However, McInnes is not going to sit by the phone hoping for a call from Derby and will instead hunt for a replacement left-back in the January transfer window.
Lowe was outstanding during a half-season loan and has now returned to Pride Park after that loan expired.
McInnes wanted to extend Lowe’s time at Pittodrie until the end of the season but was informed by Rams boss Frank Lampard the defender would return to his parent club due to a left-back injury crisis.
Such was the impact of Lowe in his four months at the Dons that McInnes aims to secure a left-back with similar qualities who, as well as being defensively Granite solid, can also rampage down the wing and deliver dangerous crosses into the box.
In an ideal world that position would be filled by Lowe, but that is unlikely unless Lampard moves to sign a left-back in January or the injuries to key players in that position diminish.
The indication from Lampard is that Lowe is not returning to Derby to warm the bench, he will be there to play from the start.
As far as hopes of securing Lowe again, McInnes admits “that ship has sailed”.
With that in mind and the January transfer window now open McInnes will move to source a left-back this month.
However, if that call does come from Derby, problem solved.
McInnes said: “There is an indication Max is going back to play. (Scott) Malone is now injured as well, (Craig) Forsyth is out for the season and (Marcus) Olsson is coming back from a cruciate.
“It is pretty clear having spoken to Frank. If I got a phone call to say that has changed I would be over the moon. But I don’t think we can sit back hoping for the phone to ring.
“We have just got to be as active as we can to bring in another left-back.
“Max would be my first choice to come back because he was magnificent for us. He was such a good kid to work with, but I think that ship has sailed unfortunately. Max is now trying to get himself into Derby’s team.”
Left-back is unlikely to be the only position McInnes will move to strengthen this month.
McInnes has admitted he would like to add “one or two” signings in the January window ahead of the second half of a campaign where Aberdeen sit just three points behind Premiership leaders Celtic and Rangers.
Following the injury to Bruce Anderson in the 2-1 defeat of Livingston the Dons gaffer has admitted he could be forced to move for a striker in the window.
Lowe is currently out injured having suffered a groin strain in the 2-0 defeat of Hearts. He pulled up in the Pittodrie clash and was taken off and missed games against Celtic (4-3 loss) and Livingston (2-1 win).
The injury to Lowe is a yet another blow for Derby boss Lampard, with left-back Scott Malone recently sustaining a groin injury that could rule him out for up to six weeks.
Derby have not had much luck with left-backs this season as Scotland cap Craig Forsyth is recovering from knee surgery and is out for the campaign.Swedish international left-back Marcus Olsson has not played since the end of last season due to a knee injury. Olsson could return this month, but he will need time to build match fitness and sharpness.
Calum Macdonald, Derby’s left-back in the under-23s, is injured.
Right-back Andre Wisdom has played on the left recently.
Such is the high regard Lampard holds for Lowe, who started the first two Championship games of this season, he tied him up on a new three-year contract less than 24 hours before he moved on loan to Aberdeen at the end of the summer window.
Lampard hopes Lowe will be available within two weeks.
Lampard said: “Max has a small groin injury. Hopefully, we are talking minimal weeks as opposed to weeks and weeks.”