Ayr United 'miles ahead' of Dundee United and should appoint Sandy Stewart - Ian McCall

Sandy Stewart with Owen Coyle at Ross County
Sandy Stewart was long-time assistant to Owen Coyle at seven clubs

Ayr United are "miles ahead of everybody" in the Scottish Championship and should give caretaker Sandy Stewart the manager's job permanently, according to former boss Ian McCall.

But the 55-year-old expects "the vultures to swoop" for Ayr's best players in January, leaving Dundee United to win the title.

McCall left the club to join Partick Thistle last week.

"I don't think Ayr United have a size of squad to sustain it," he said.

Ayr lost top scorer Lawrence Shankland to Dundee United this summer and his 15 goals in 12 games have led to a first call up to the Scotland squad.

McCall, who lifted Thistle off the bottom of the table with Saturday's debut win over Inverness Caledonian Thistle, told BBC Scotland: "United are solid at the back and they have Lawrence and, if he stays fit, I think he'll score 30-35 goals and that will be enough to win the title."

Stewart is in temporary charge at Somerset Park following McCall's departure, and oversaw a 3-0 win away to Arbroath and has two more games - against Caley Thistle and Dunfermline Athletic - before Ayr chairman Lachlan Cameron makes a decision on the way forward.

"The both of us will look at it at the end of that and we'll see what happens," Stewart said. "He has invited applications and hopes one of the applications will be myself."

The 53-year-old, who worked as assistant to Owen Coyle at various clubs over 10 years, can count of the backing of his former colleague if he does apply for the permanent job.

"My opinion was you've got to give Sandy the job until the end of the season and keep things going the way they are," McCall said.

"Sandy has coached in the English Premier League, so he's no mug."

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