WILL they stay or will they go?

That’s the question Stevie Crawford will have answered very shortly as a verdict is reached on whether his loan signings will return to their parent clubs or remain at East End Park for the rest of the season.

He’s had regular communication with Hearts over their young duo Harry Cochrane and Anthony McDonald, while talks last weekend were also had with Kilmarnock in relation to Greg Kiltie.

The Pars head coach said on Monday that a decision was set to be made by their respective employers “this coming week”, meaning their futures will soon become clear to everyone involved.

He said: “There’s been communication over the weekend and we’ll hopefully find out within this coming week where we’re at with them.

“That will throw its own problems if they do get called back. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that if Anthony, Harry and Greg go back then we’re going to have to replace them with players that play in those positions. It’s stuff that we’re working on behind the scenes.

“It’s not guaranteed that these players will go back but until we hear where we’re at, we’ve just to keep working away on things in the background.”

Norwich City loanee Josh Coley remains on the sidelines through injury and the Pars will know where they stand with that deal in mid-January.

Crawford admitted this week that it wasn't just the four loanees who could exit the club this month.

While no player has thus far expressed a desire to leave, he’s aware of the possibility.

“You never know if a player is going to chap the door and ask to get away because not everybody is going to be happy in that squad in terms of the game time they’ve had between the summer and January,” he commented.

“It’s the same at every club. I’m respectful that players are that way, and it’s just business that will be done behind closed doors. I’m not aware that any player is unhappy.

“If that means we go with the squad we’ve got, then great.”

One positive ahead of the January transfer window opening was Euan Murray and Tom Lang both making it through an hour-long bounce game at East End on Monday.

They both emerged from the intra-squad test unscathed after lengthy injury lay-offs, and their return was welcomed by Crawford, who stated his pleasure over the “competition for places” across the defence ahead of tomorrow's test with Ayr United at home.

Danny Devine sustained a knock the day before the Alloa game and it’s hoped he could be in contention for the next fixture.

He was one of several absences from the squad against Alloa, with Tom Beadling and Andy Ryan also missing out.

Beadling was unable to make the squad through the injury he sustained at Inverness, while Ryan was a tactical omission, Crawford added.

Crawford did add to his squad earlier today (Friday) however, as Ethan Ross joined the club on loan from Aberdeen.

The 18-year-old will make East End Park his home for the remainder of the season.

The young midfielder is highly rated at Pittodrie and was named the club's Development Player of the Year for 2018/19.