Dundee manager James McPake fears his young stars’ development will suffer if the lower leagues don’t restart.
The Dens boss sees loan moves for his up-and-coming players as a key part of their progression from youth football.
This season has already seen the likes of Lyall Cameron and Sam Fisher get game time in League One for Peterhead and Forfar Athletic respectively.
However, the lower leagues were dealt a blow this week when the SFA confirmed their suspension due to Covid-19 would continue for the time being.
That will be reviewed by March 1 – after the extended loan window for lower league sides closes at the end of February.
And McPake will be disappointed not to have the option of sending his young players out to get much-needed game time.
The Dens boss admits he will continue looking for any additions with loans available for the rest of this month, including the possibility of Celtic’s Ewan Henderson arriving from Parkhead.
However, sending players out on loan, he says, would have been more likely.
Already winger Declan McDaid signed up with Partick Thistle on a temporary deal until the end of the campaign but it’s unclear whether the Jags will get the chance to see out the season.
McPake said of his squad: “We have a big squad – we’ve had 22 training some days and that needs trimmed a little.
“We would like to get some of the kids out for experience because that’s helped. We need to wait for the lower leagues to start, though.
“The extension should be helpful for getting young players out for experience but only if Leagues One and Two get back.”
Dundee’s young players have already benefited from the loan system this season, with midfielder Cameron doing well at Peterhead and Fisher getting game time at Forfar in League One in the first half of the campaign.
Young goalkeeper Harrison Sharp and striker Michael Cunningham have also been at Edinburgh City this term.
Last season saw Josh Mulligan enjoy a good season in League Two with champions Cove Rangers and Callum Moore turn out for Stenhousemuir.
And McPake fears a key part of development for youngsters going out on loan will be lost if the lower leagues don’t restart.
“I see the difference in Lyall Cameron since he’s come back from Peterhead,” said McPake.
“He only played 15 games but he experienced first-team football and what it meant, he played different positions and 70-odd minutes with 10 men in a game.
“He’s learning these things and Jim McInally was really complimentary. Then you can see now he has developed from the loan move and shown he can play against grown men at first-team level.
“Sam Fisher played a few games for Forfar and Josh Mulligan won a league with Cove last year.
“It’s something we use to develop our young players and it will be a shame if the lower leagues don’t start back.”