Scottish Premiership Summer Freebies XI: the pick of out-of-contract players

It's tradition. Santa delivers the presents, then come the New Year resolutions and those are quickly followed by - the transfer speculation.

But who will be receiving a January bargain from their board and who will be vowing to find themselves fresh employers in the new year?

With a trend towards shorter contracts, an increasing number of players are finding themselves six months away from being out of contract.

Indeed, you could pick a team capable of challenging at the top of the Scottish Premiership from those who are now able to speak to potential new employers and here we do exactly that.

Summer Freebiex XI
Substitutes: Dorus De Vries (Celtic), Scott Tanser (St Johnstone), Joe Shaughnessy (St Johnstone), David Turnbull (Motherwell), Arnaud Djoum (Hearts), Chris Burke (Kilmarnock), Kris Boyd (Kilmarnock)

Tomas Cerny (Aberdeen)

Having been a stalwart at Partick Thistle for three years until relegation last season, and Hamilton Academical before that, Tomas Cerny will have had high hopes of forcing himself into the first-team picture at Aberdeen.

But the Czech has been kept out the side by the impressive and ever-present Joe Lewis and, at 33, remains a potentially consistent performer who is wasted as a bench warmer.

David Gray (Hibernian)

David Gray has missed much of the season through injury, but the 30-year-old right-back remains Hibernian's club captain.

He is assured of a place in the club's history books for leading the side to their first Scottish Cup final win in 114 years in 2016, but will his return to the squad at the end of December ensure an extended stay at Easter Road?

Lee Wallace (Rangers)

Scotland defender Lee Wallace has made only two substitute appearances this season since finishing the last campaign suspended for the club following a bust-up with former manager Graeme Murty.

Even when Rangers have been short of left-backs, he has found midfielder Andy Halliday being played out of position ahead of him.

There is reported interest in the 31-year-old from Bristol City, but whether he leaves on loan in January or permanently in the summer, it appears unlikely that Wallace will see much more action for his boyhood heroes.

Craig Halkett (Livingston)

Craig Halkett has flourished to such an extent with Livingston since his 2016 switch from Rangers that there have been suggestions that his former club might be interest in taking him back.

The 23-year-old centre-half helped the West Lothian side secure successive promotions, rising to the challenge each season, and is now part of one of the stingiest defences in the top flight.

He makes the XI after Efe Ambrose triggered a release clause to leave Hibernian.

Dedryck Boyata (Celtic)

Belgium centre-half Dedryck Boyata had a falling out with the club, or Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers at least, at the start of the season after Fulham's multi-million pound bid was rejected.

Now his agent, Jacques Lichtenstein, has been quoted as saying the 28-year-old will be leaving the Scottish champions this summer and could sign a pre-contract agreement with another club during January.

He had returned to the fold impressively during Celtic's European run, building further a reputation enhanced by his role in helping his national side to the World Cup semi-finals in the summer.

Would Celtic be tempted to sell now rather than lose the 28-year-old for nothing in the summer considering they are no better off for centre-half cover than they were when refusing to allow Boyata to join Fulham?

They not only have a Europa League last 32 tie to come but now have a potential title battle on their hands.

Scott Brown (Celtic)

A-League club Western Melbourne have made an approach for Scott Brown, while Minnesota United and Sporting Kansas City have also been linked with interest in the Celtic captain.

While it has previously been suggested that Brown could have a coaching role in the waiting at Celtic Park and Brendan Rodgers has also spoken of him in high regard, the manager says he is allowing the 33-year-old plenty of time to consider his future.

Brown retired from Scotland duty to prolong his Celtic career, but the side's most impressive recent performances have been when he has been absent from the starting line-up and that may colour his own and the club's thinking.

Scott Allan (Celtic)

Midfielder Scott Allan has not played competitively since scoring for Hibs in a 5-5 draw with Rangers on the final day of last season.

He has not featured at all for Celtic's first-team this season on his return from loan and, at 27, must be itching for a way out, either temporarily or permanently.

Having also had loan spells with Rotherham United and Dundee since his permanent move from Easter Road in 2015, it is pretty clear he will not be offered a new contract.

With Hibs head coach Neil Lennon bemoaning the lack of creativity from midfield, and with Emerson Hyndman having returned to Bournemouth, you would imagine there would be renewed interest from Easter Road.

Graeme Shinnie and Gary Mackay-Steven (Aberdeen)

Midfielders Graeme Shinnie and Gary Mackay-Steven have been two of the standout performers for Derek McInnes' side this season, leading to both becoming established in the Scotland squad.

However, 27-year-old Shinnie in particular may think it is time to follow his older brother, Andrew, now with Luton Town in League One, to more lucrative pastures in English football.

Having failed to establish himself at Celtic, Mackay-Steven, one year older, may also be thinking it is now or never if he is to give English football a go.

Chris Cadden (Motherwell)

With Rangers tying up the signature of Kilmarnock's Jordan Jones for next season, Chris Cadden sneaks into the side on the wing.

The 22-year-old product of Motherwell's youth system remains one of Scotland's top emerging talents and will be hoping to return to the kind of performances that led to his first two caps on tour with an admittedly depleted Scotland in the summer.

While technically a free agent, any potential club would still have to pay a compensation fee to Motherwell if they tried to sign the wide player this summer.

Tony Watt (St Johnstone)

Good strikers are always in demand and there aren't too many coming out of contract in the Premiership.

Tony Watt has rid himself of his troublemaker image since joining St Johnstone in the summer and, although he has only scored once since a spell of six in seven games at the start of the season, the 25-year-old gets the nod over Kris Boyd considering the Kilmarnock legend will turn 36 at the start of next season.

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