Manager on ThursdayThursday, 17th Oct 2019
17/10/19: SC - Joe Thomson’s return would be “a massive boost for the squad, someone of that quality coming back and fighting for a place ....
After the disappointment at Cappielow a week past Saturday Stevie Crawford has said that the international break has given his team time to re-group. He told the media:-
“We were 30 seconds from sitting fifth in the league so in that regard it was quite tough to take.
“We are still missing a few, which is frustrating. We still have a few injuries hanging over us but, in the main, we’ve had a couple of weeks where we’ve trained well and are looking forward to the Ayr game.
“We are three games undefeated. We go into a game against Ayr which will be very difficult. They have started the season really well. Michael Moffat is leading the line well, the two wide players are contributing goals.”
While Ayr United players like Moff and Andy Geggan are well known to both Pars fans and management, the manager also has first hand experience of working with two of Ayr’s younger players:-
“They have got in Stephen Kelly from Rangers, he is someone I can remember from when I was working at Rangers! I was with the under-13s squad and Stephen had ability back then. He was a lot smaller, as you can imagine, but he was a talent even back then. It’s been really nice to see him progress in the game but we’ll hopefully keep him quiet on Saturday.
“He would have been 12 and stepped up a level to my age group, as did Jordan Houston, who played right-back in the last game for Ayr.
“They are two kids I know from my time there. It shows the age I’m getting to when I’m talking about boys I knew at 12 becoming first-team players!
“You can tell at that age that they are in the academy for a reason - they had great attitudes and, as well as their ability in that age group, they definitely had the mindsets that they wanted to be professional footballers and would put the work in.
“That satisfaction of seeing young players come through is a big part of who I am in football. I know that, as first-team manager, I’m going to be judged on results. However, there is nothing more satisfying than looking around the country and being able to say ‘I played a small part in helping them become a footballer’. That is their dreams and, as coaches, we should be aiming to make them come true.
“I might be like a stuck record, but I’m all for developing young talent and that will continue to be the case at Dunfermline.”
Turning to his own players, Stevie reported that Euan Murray had been joining in on some non-contact training but went on to say that he had received the unfortunate news that Euan would be out for a further six weeks.
“He was very keen to keep himself in very good condition in the hope that the results would say that he could resume playing again.
“It’s the same injury but the scan came back and wasn’t the news we wanted. It’s about his safety and until that clears up and there’s no risk, we need to be patient.
“We were hopeful in the initial timeframe we were given, that would be the case. There were no signs that it would be bad news. He had been running and didn’t feel anything untoward.
“We did our jobs in terms of getting him sent back and it’s still at the stage where we need to look after his health. It’s not even worth contemplating the sort of risks we’d put Euan in if we asked him to play.”
The international break has given Euan a couple of weeks to wrap his head around that news since it could not have been easy for him mentally.
“Sometimes football players are expected to just take things on the chin and get on with it but we let Euan have a few days away.
“He’s got a good relationship with the boys - they are there for him, we are there for him as a coaching staff and the chairman has been in contact with Euan to keep his head up during difficult times. He’s a strong character.
“But we deal with it, we move on. He’s in a better frame of mind now. It was that initial shock.”
Paul Paton started training in the early part of the week. Stevie commented on his injured players:-
“We’ll monitor Paul and I’m sure he’ll be in contention for selection this weekend.
“Lewis McCann played with Northern Ireland Under 21s but unfortunately has cut his hand. He had stitches put in and they have opened up again while he was away. He has had to have that re-addressed.
“Tom Lang ran at the 70 per cent mark on Tuesday, so you would be hoping he’ll be back in the later stages of next week.
“Matty Todd picked up an ankle injury in the week past Monday. We’ve had him scanned and he could be a three or four week job, which is unfortunate.”
Better news however of Joe Thomson who has been out since the home game against Ayr United in March:-
“Joe has a full week’s training under his belt where he has been involved in the contact stuff. He needs to see a specialist on Monday but if he gets the thumbs-up for that then he’ll get 45 minutes in the next reserve game.
“I’m delighted for Joe because it has been a long road for him coming back. It’s credit to the medical staff and Joe himself to have that mindset and determination to get back ahead of schedule. We just have to make sure we are looking after him.
“The one thing we get with Joe is real energy. One of the most refreshing things is when we were going through sticky patches, he said he would play anywhere across the midfield four, despite the fact I know he prefers it in the centre.
“As a manager, that speaks volumes when you are picking a team. It’s easy to be selfish in those situations and say ‘I want to play there’ and go into games with a negative mindset. So it is so refreshing.
“He’ll be a massive boost for the squad, to have someone of that quality coming back and fighting for a place - it will put even more demands on the players, which is what I want.”