Dunfermline Athletic

Manager on Thursday

Thursday, 23rd Jun 2016

23/06/16: AJ:- "We have a couple of trialists in and there will probably be a couple more over the next couple of weeks.

Allan Johnston feels that the majority of the hard work in pre season training has been completed in the period since starting back a week past Monday. He told the media:-

"We can now start focussing on the games coming up. The start is probably too early. I think everybody is agreed that so many competitive games that early is not the answer for the players."

Dunfermline kick off in the re-structured League Cup at home against Arbroath on Tuesday 19th July and will play the four section matches completing them at Tannadice on Sunday 31st July against Dundee United.

"They are expected to play so many games in such a short period of time. That is definitely the big downside but they are competitive games and we need to do something to freshen up Scottish football as well."

Pre season games start with a closed doors match on Saturday against Partick Thistle and then at Alloa next Wednesday night. Livingston are opponents on Saturday 2nd July, Hearts are now lined up to provide East End Park its first match of the season the following Saturday but the manager dismissed suggestion that the League Cup games would form part of pre-season:-

"I don`t think they can be. Because you can only play so many subs, the majority of boys are going to have to play 90 minutes. They will need to play 90 minutes for four games and the boys will need to be fit and ready to go otherwise they will pick up loads of injuries.

"That is why we are one of the earliest teams back. It is so we have time to prepare right, get the hard work over and done by, hopefully they will be fresh by the time the games come along."

AJ considers Dunfermline`s group in the League Cup as one of the most difficult. They will play Arbroath and Inverness Caley Thistle at home and Cowdenbeath and Dundee United away. Cowdenbeath being a derby will be a tough one and as lots of visitors have found in the past to their cost - a hard place to go!

"Inverness and United are two really good teams but they will give us a test before the season starts for real."

The new players appear to have settled in well and the manager said:-

"Obviously Nat had booked his wedding and he missed the first week. He has caught up really well since coming in this week. You can tell that he is a quality player and he will suit the way we play as well alongside the other guys who were here last year as well.

"Adding Gavin Reilly and Lee Ashcroft, we are starting to build a decent squad as well. We are still really light in numbers and we could do with a couple more coming in.

"Gavin Reilly is a massive signing for us because I have worked with him before. He is a goalscorer, he is a hard worker, he has a lot of pace and I think with the style of play we play he will do really well."

The gaffer played alongside Gavin at Queen of the South and then managed him at the club. He always regarded the player as one with a lot of potential capable playing the passes in behind that hurt teams.

"He is still a young lad and not the finished article. He still has a lot to learn and improve on but he is a worker and he wants to improve and get better. He is not here to go through the motions, he is here to make an impact and score goals."

The target for further signings is in strike force:-

"We still need another two strikers and maybe one other. The squad is tight and we have a couple of wee injuries. We have good competition for places just now and we are looking to bring in quality players like the ones we have already brought in."

The manager had no news on the possibility of the return of last season`s top goalscorer, Faissal El Bakhtaoui. The club is trying to be as patient as possible and hope that given a bit of time that he eventually sees sense and signs. Allan continued:-

"At the same time we have to make sure that we look after ourselves and if something comes up then we just might not be able to bring him in. At the end of the day it depends on whether something else comes up that forces our hand. Then decisions would have to be made but it is the same at every club. He obviously wants to see what his options are but you would expect that you would know your options by now because we are well into the pre season by now.

"We have a couple of trialists in and there will probably be a couple more over the next couple of weeks. That happens a lot in pre season but hopefully someone catches our eye."

Michael Paton has had his hernia operation and having Callum Fordyce back in training feels like a new signing. He missed the bulk of last season and although he is not match fit yet AJ commented:-

"He has been doing a lot of the running but today is the first day that he has joined in the possessions. That is a big step forward and it is just a matter of taking it slowly and building it up. He was an important player for us last year, not just on the park but off the park as well. He is the right type and we are all hopeful that he comes back one hundred percent."

The appointment of Dave Westwood as goalkeeping coach is a good move, the manager pointed out:-

"The goalies will hopefully benefit long term. It is alright us doing training and them joining in but they need specialised work to put them through their paces."

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