AYR United boss Lee Bullen says the club are being "proactive" in finding replacements for their injured midfield duo.

But he insisted the club won't rush into a decision after finding out that Ben Dempsey and Andy Murdoch face lengthy spells on the sidelines.

Bullen spoke to the Advertiser following Ayr's 2-0 loss to Livingston in the last 16 of the Viaplay Cup on Saturday - and only hours after the club confirmed that both players will need surgery on knee injuries.

The pair join Jamie Murphy on the Somerset Park treatment table - though the former Rangers, Hibs and St Johnstone midfielder should be returning in "a couple weeks".

“Missing Ben Dempsey and Andy Murdoch for a while is going to be a sore one for us," Bullen admitted.

Ayr Advertiser: Andy Murdoch came off injured against Morton.

And now Ayr are, unexpectedly, going to have to dip into the transfer market to find cover.

Bullen commented: “We’ve got ten days until the end of the transfer window, and then we’ve got another month until the end of the loan window.

“There is time, but the loan window is a tough one. The majority of players that you would fancy at other clubs – Premiership clubs – are normally kept in by the clubs until the very end of the window, until they sort out their own squads.

“Can we sit by and take a gamble that we can get the players that we want in four, five weeks' time? I’m not sure.

“I’m sure there are other clubs that are looking at similar players to us, so we need to be a little bit proactive."

Despite the looming closure of the transfer window, Bullen says the Honest Men will not be rushing into any decisions.

"We’ve got a lot of targets there," he continued.

"We’ve got a meeting to discuss the options that are available, and if it’s one or potentially two players that we bring in with the little bit of budget we’ve got left.

“We are being proactive, but I’m not going to say it’ll be this week. I would love it to be this week, but it has to be the right type that we bring into the group.

“It has to be the right characters that will fit the changing room, the right sort of quality of player that we can get that will help this group over the next few months.”

Unless new recruits come in soon, United will now head into their next Championship fixture, at home to Dundee United this Saturday, short of four key players

Ayr Advertiser: Alan Power challenges Ben Dempsey

Adding to the three players injured, new signing Logan Chalmers - who returned to the club on loan from Dundee United at the weekend, and featured against Livingston - will be unavailable to play against his parent club.

But Saturday's performance has given Bullen confidence that his squad - even in its current state - can take the game to Jim Goodwin's side.

United lost 2-0 at the Tony Macaroni Arena on Saturday as a Joel Nouble first half finish and Cristian Montaño second half strike put David Martindale's side into the quarter finals.

But Ayr matched their opponents for large periods of the game - registering just as many efforts on target, and having more of the ball than the Premiership side.

Looking back at the match, Bullen told the Advertiser: “The two biggest clubs in Scotland have struggled there over the years and we knew it was always going to be a tough one.

“I think Dave [Martindale, Livingston manager] was right in what he said, in that they had that little bit more up top, in terms of they took their opportunities and we didn’t.

“Other than that, I think we matched them for long periods and played some good stuff.

“But the most important part is being able to put the ball in the net, and they were slightly better than us at that on the day.

“That will come, because we’re creating chances against one of the toughest defences in the Premiership, which is always good. We’ll be fine.”

Now Bullen is looking forward to his side testing themselves against "everybody's favourites" to win the Championship this season.

He said: “It’s an exciting challenge and I would love to go into it with a full strength squad. That’s not to be, so we’ll deal with that.

Ayr Advertiser: Action from Ayr United's trip to face Greenock Morton.

"We’ve got a squad of players there that more than matched up against Livingston for long periods.

“It’s exciting, it’s great, let’s get it right. [Dundee United are] virtually everybody’s favourites to get promoted again.

“So it’s as tough a game as you can get, but we’ll give them a good battle down here.

"We’re looking forward to getting them down to Somerset.”

The home crowd is something that Bullen is also hoping can help encourage his depleted side come Saturday at 3pm.

“You’ve got to use that to your benefit," he commented. "We know one full side of the stadium is out of use at the moment, but there will be a good atmosphere.

“Dundee United will fill one end, we’ll fill the other end, there will be a good buzz about it, and then it’s down to the players to go out there to show what they’re all about and put a marker down against everybody’s favourite.”