No panic buying as Scunthorpe United will make do and mend this year
IT IS billed as a make or break month, but for Scunthorpe United it is simply a case of make do and mend.
There will be no breaking the bank this year.
For all its build-up, January threatens to be something of a damp squib.
Don't let that fool you though.
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Whilst on the pitch – despite their elevated position – it hasn't quite turned into the points bonanza the Iron were hoping for, off it, it was never really going to be that big a deal.
The club have been chanting the "no money" mantra for some time now, softening the blow ready for a quiet transfer window.
It is all too easy for sides in their position to fall into the trap of panic buying. The clock ticks all the louder when you're at the wrong end of the table as the window creaks shut.
Thirty-one days in which to conduct business doesn't promote rational thinking; it's more like stockpiling for the desperate.
You need only look at Newcastle United and their sudden spending spree.
United have been there, done that and suffered the consequences.
January isn't always the salvation it's made out to be.
"I have never thought spending money in January was money well spent.
"Generally speaking, money spent in January, is panic spending and clubs always put prices up."
Wise words from Scunthorpe chairman Steve Wharton just 12 months ago.
There was never going to be an influx of players at Glanford Park this time around. No repeat of the steady stream of arrivals in 2011 when five contracts were signed and four loan deals done.
The only bit of business boss Brian Laws has managed so far is to bring in striker Akpo Sodje and, potentially, full-back Eddie Nolan.
And fans have been told not to expect much more.
In the short-term, any back-up will come from those players returning from injury.
Even if some extra cash comes the Iron's way should Gary Hooper find himself on the fast train to the Premier League it will make little difference.
The rumours have been followed closely in North Lincolnshire as United look to reap the rewards of a sell-on clause cleverly negotiated by Wharton when the goalscoring supremo moved to Celtic in June 2010.
Norwich had a £5 million bid rebuffed last week, while Tottenham Hotspur, the place where it all began for Hooper, are also now reported to be interested.
But, as with most midwinter moves, nothing is likely to happen until the end of the month – and probably on the final day.
Still, even if the deal was done tomorrow, very little will be added to Laws's spending money.
With the club having reported record losses of £1.9 million in the last financial year, any windfall will go towards reducing that shortfall.
The manager might be able to bring in the odd extra loan signing; permanent deals though, will be a no go.
"At the moment we've got to stick with what we've got, but I'm absolutely confident there will be fresh players coming in somewhere along the line," said the manager.
"It probably won't be before the end of January, it will probably be when the loan window reopens and everybody is willing to release the players they thought they were going to get some money for."
For United, January is most significant for what traffic heads in the opposite direction.
As Laws also pointed out: "It's the same old story. I'm probably boring people to death with it, but it's a fact that somebody has to go out before I can bring somebody else in.
"There's been no movement on that, though we are trying extremely hard to develop a relationship with other clubs and make sure we've got our finger on the pulse if we need to act."
Common consensus is Mark Duffy would be the man most likely to head through the exit door given his form this term.
Scunthorpe's standout player is out of contract in the summer, though Laws has said they will take up the option of another year in the summer.
Given the one-time Morecambe winger signed his contract while the Iron were in the Championship, in reality that would surely depend on what division the club find themselves in.
A cynic might suggest they are simply trying to bump up his fee.
Duffy himself admitted to the Telegraph last week that he had heard there has been an "enquiry" from Sheffield United, though it had gone no further.
He insists though, he would be happy to remain at Glanford Park.
"I would like to stay. I've enjoyed my time here," Duffy said.
Just seven more days to wait and see if that will be the case.