Dunfermline Athletic

Manager on Thursday

Thursday, 7th Jan 2016

07/01/16: AJ - "We are really struggling for defenders, just now we really only have three defenders.

There is a buzz about East End Park ahead of the visit of Premiership competition in the Fourth Round of the William Hill Scottish Cup this Saturday but Allan Johnston maintains that the place has been buzzing all season long:-

"The boys have done really well and you can see that with the performances this year, not just in the league but in the cup competitions as well. The fans backing was great at the weekend, we had the fifth highest crowd in Scotland so you see the size of club and the backing that we have got." He feels that a cup victory would be a fine reward for this display of support, he continued:-

"The supporters have really backed the club, they have got right behind us, directors are obviously backing us as well and giving us the opportunity to bring somebody in January. You cannot really ask for much more. We just have to make sure that we keep getting results.

"I am sure that they left last week happy. It was an exciting game and we are just trying to encourage as many people as possible to come back."

The manager is hoping for more of the same when Ross County are the visitors on Saturday and hoping that his players are up for another test against top flight opponents. He continued:-

"It is going the a tough test because they are flying just now and probably one of the most improved teams in the Premiership this season. They have brought in a bit of quality but coming to East End will be a tough test for anybody. You can see the confidence that our players have got, even in the Dundee United game at Tannadice we ran them really close. We were really unfortunate so it is a good game to look forward to and test yourself against better players playing at the highest level."

The categorisation of the tie as a potential 'banana skin' the manager feels is a great complement to his team. AJ praised their consistency:-

"You can see it week after week getting wins; it is hard to do that. Teams make it difficult for us here, setting up really defensive. This will be a different type of game and I am sure that Ross County will come and have a go at us. They have a lot of good attacking options and scored a lot of goals this year so we are going to have to be at our very best to get a result.

"Brian Graham, Craig Curran, Alex Schalk - they have a lot of striking options and also I have worked with Martin Gardyne before as well and he is on fire at the moment"

Last time Ross County came to East End Park their current manager, Jim McIntyre, was the manager of Dunfermline. Saturday is not only Macca's first competitive match against Dunfermline since leaving but also the first time that Allan Johnston and him have come up against each other. AJ said:-

"When I left Queen of the South he got the Queen of the South job. He left Queen of the South and then went to Ross County and I had left Kilmarnock by that time. I did play against his Dunfermline team.

"He has done well because it is a hard job trying to attract people up north. Their chairman is brilliant as well and really backs the club. In January last year he almost brought a whole new team in. They look as though they have a settled squad now with real competition for places.

"Obviously Joe Cardle has played there as well and I am sure that he will be buzzing for the game at the weekend and have a point to prove as well."

The Pars defender Marc McAusland went off injured in the last match and is classed as a major doubt ahead of the cup tie. Allan Johnston described him as a 'big loss' if he does not make Saturday.

"Our defensive record since he has come in is excellent. Marc and Ben Richards-Everton have a good partnership but hopefully we can cope with such a loss out of the heart of the defence.

"We have lost Lewis Martin, Callum Fordyce, Ryan Williamson and unlucky to lose defensive players to injury. We are still looking at a couple of different options - whether we can bring somebody in on loan.

"We are really struggling for defenders, just now we really only have three defenders. It shows you how short we are. We desperately need to bring a couple in, hopefully we can do that in the next few days."

The manager re-iterated previous lines when asked about rumoured interest in some of his players:-

"We cannot afford to let any of our best players go. If we have any ambitions to win the league, which we have, then we have got to keep our best players. We have a really tight squad as it is anyway."

Several players and even the manager himself are out of contract at the end of the season but AJ maintained that the club is not currently in a position to do much about that.

"That's just the way things are and shows you how important it is to win promotion this season."

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