Alas Smith & Jones

The biennial January Buddies Bumper Bugger-Off Bonanza gathered pace last week with Jordan Kirkpatrick, Ian McShane, Adam Hammill and Josh Heaton all joining Matty Willock on the way out of the club but it looks like there are more painful exists to come for the Saints faithful in the week ahead.

There have been few surprises in the departures to date, and if Cole Kpekawa, Adam Eckersley, Anton Ferdinand and Jeff King can find clubs in the next few weeks then we will be heading towards a double digit exodus as Oran Kearney clears the decks ahead of the second half of the season.

You won't hear many dissenting voices in the support as they review that list of departees but there are two players who are heading for the departure lounge who will certainly be missed.

Josh Heaton appeared to suggest, in a hastily deleted tweet, that Southampton loanee Alfie Jones will be continuing his career South of the border in the second half of the season. Jones had a turbulent start to life in Paisley but has grown into one of our more accomplished performers at the back, so it's a surprise to hear that his season long deal could be ended prematurely. Perhaps Southampton or the player himself are not happy with him playing at centre-half, as he did come to the club as a central defensive midfielder, or maybe Oran and his team simply don't rate the youngster as highly as most of the fans do.

Either way we have many problems to attend to in the squad and most of us would contend that Jones ain't one of them.

And then we have Cammy Smith. One of the absolute stand out performers of the title winning season, and one of the most popular players at the club in recent times.

Cammy has struggled for game time this season under both managers and with Oran Kearney keen to bring in new bodies the mercurial Smith is an easy option to offload with a queue of clubs said to be interested in securing his services.

One such club is Dundee Utd who were apparently very close to agreeing a deal for the player only for Saints to pull the plug at the last minute.

Whether another suitor has come in for Smith or whether Saints are just playing hardball with Utd it seems pretty certain that Cammy has played his last game in the stripes and his will be the most painful departure yet for the fans.

Many supporters argue that we should be building a team around Smith rather than dismissing his undoubted talents but it seems clear that Oran and his backroom team don't agree and it will be with a heavy heart that we wave goodbye to Cammy Smith and one of the last few stalwarts of what was such a memorable period for everyone connected with the club.