Dunfermline Athletic

Happy Returns

Tuesday, 11th Jan 2022

John Hughes welcomes back key players for this week and equally important fans from next week

The Pars boss John Hughes today welcomed news that fans would return to the stands from Dunfermline’s re-arranged home game against Inverness Caledonian Thistle on 22nd January. Recalling the famous quote from former Dunfermline and Celtic manager Jock Stein, Hughes commented:-

“That’s fantastic. I’m old school and as the great man said football is nothing without supporters. We need our supporters. That home win took a long time in coming and when we did it against Ayr United it was great to see the reaction from the supporters. They are right behind us and they played a massive part in this club over the years.”

Remembering the efforts made when the club went into administration in April 2013 the gaffer has sensed the backing that has always come from the fans:-

“The supporters and the community got right behind each other. You feel that when you come in here. If we get a successful team on that pitch those supporters will come out in their numbers. It is up to us to go and entertain them.”

Following Scottish Government restrictions only 500 fans are allowed in for this Saturday’s Championship match against Hamilton Academical but they should be able to watch Mark Connolly who should be fit to make his final Dunfermline appearance. The on loan Dundee United centre half missed last Saturday’s match with a thigh strain but returned to training on Tuesday. The manager continued:-

“This is his final game and he gave me that look when I told him we need him. I still think that he was feeling it a little bit but fingers crossed he will be in with the physio and be available for Saturday.

“We hear that Mark is going over to Ireland on loan. I would love to keep him here until the end of the season because he is the kind of warrior / battler that we need and we probably missed him on Saturday.”

Two other absentees from last Saturday - Rhys Breen and Graham Dorrans - should be available for the Hamilton match, John Hughes added:-

“Rhys will be back on Friday and Graham on Wednesday. No matter good, bad or indifferent they have been missed. Graham Dorrans brings so so much to it on the ball and we have missed him. We were just starting to get into Big Breenie but I don’t think we will be any different from any other team with Covid, it is how you handle it. We stick to the protocols.”

In the absence of both Connolly and Breen the central defensive positions were filled by Coll Donaldson and Lewis Martin, players who had been out for 5 and 21 months respectively. Hughes commented:-

“I am not making excuses but that was Lewis Martin’s first game for a long long time, the same for Coll Donaldson and I think it showed. We are doing everything that we can to help them but we certainly missed the leadership qualities of Mark Connolly. Hopefully he can give us a send off with three points.”

The manager revealed that in the post match debrief he told his players to be the best professionals that they can be for the next four months.

“24/7 only one thought process, Dunfermline. Don’t be found wanting to keep us in the league, if individually they can bring it together then collectively we have a chance. I have great belief in them, I think they need one or two in to give them a hand.”

Craig Wighton has been linked with a move to Arbroath where he was on loan between January and March 2020. John Hughes has started the 24 year old striker only once in the abandoned match at Kilmarnock, and he confirmed that a few clubs are in for Craig and Arbroath is certainly one of them.

“I think he had a good time there and I’m honest enough to say that I can see a lot of frustration in Wiggy because he is not playing as there is with the other strikers, Todorov and O’Hara. That is nothing different to when I went up to Ross County when I went with Jordan White instead of Billy McKay and Oli Shaw because I had to bottle up that midfield. It is no different.

“Everybody wants to play and I totally understand that so no matter what player it is, we have had a strategy meeting where we feel that there will be one or two that we don’t want to lose, like Gašpuitis but if it’s good business for the club we will do the business.”

Regarding players coming in, “there are a lot of teams hanging on to players because of Covid. I can understand that and you think that you are just about there when the rug gets pulled from under you. You just have to go again, I would have liked to have done all my business in the first ten days of the transfer window but it is not going to be like that. I can only apologise to the supporters.”



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