Dunfermline Athletic

Manager on Thursday

Thursday, 14th Jul 2016

14/07/16: "I am pleased by the way the boys have worked hard in pre season and we are now looking forward to it all starting."

Allan Johnston claimed today that things were looking good for the Pars first competitive game on Tuesday night against Dick Campbell`s Arbroath in the Betfred Cup. Speaking to the website he said:-

"Preparations in pre season have gone really well. We have had some tough games against Premiership teams and the boys have coped really well. We have looked a real threat going forward and have been hard to beat defensively as well. There have been a lot of positives."

The 3-1 win over Hearts last Saturday raised eyebrows especially with the Fifers three up at the break. AJ felt it was good from start to finish.

"Obviously I thought the first half was better, we were on the front foot more but second half even when we were tested by Hearts and up against it, we still looked good defensively."

The pre season friendlies have shown the manager that his players are fit and every one of them is capable of challenging for a first team place.

"Lewis Spence has come back and has looked really sharp in the middle of the park. Rhys McCabe has come back flying. Everyone is competing for places, you just have to make sure that you perform and make sure that you are winning to stay in this league as well."

While agreeing that he has a tight squad numerically the manager stated that he did not want "millions of players" either.

"It is all about having quality rather than quantity. I have said a few times that we are trying to bring in another two but things like that take time. We are not just going to take players for the sake of making numbers up. They need to be able to play in our team and compete because you can see the quality that we have in the squad."

On Tuesday this week the first team played their final friendly of pre season at Hamilton. In a closed doors game Dunfermline lost a goal in the final minutes to lose by the only strike of the match. The visitors had hit the post, had one cleared off the line and had numerous chances. The only criticism would be that they might have been a little more clinical in finishing.

"The majority of the boys played 45 minutes or maybe just a wee bit longer. The younger ones came on towards the end so we finished with a young team but I thought we competed really well again. I thought we were the better team for the majority of the game."

Giving an update on his injury list Allan revealed David Hopkirk has felt a slight hamstring strain but sometimes that happens when coming back in games. Michael Paton returned to training with the ball today and is coming along well. Sean Murdoch has a wrist problem and will be missing in the meantime.

"Sean has been to see a specialist and we are taking advice. David Hutton sat out most of last season and it is hard being a goalie when someone is in in front of you and playing really well like Sean did last season. He made a lot of good saves and deserved to play.

"Hutts has come back saying from the very start of pre season that he wants to play and wants to be involved. It is up to him now to keep the jersey. It is a frustrating position to play especially when you see the guy in front of you playing really well. It is all about competition and it is the same for everybody. You just have to make sure that you grab your chance."

The competitive season starts with the same opposition as last season. Arbroath lose 4-1 at Gayfield last July but this Tuesday it will be a different team set out by a different manager. Todd Lumsden was replaced by Dick Campbell in March this year and AJ stressed that there are no easy games:-

"Look at the European Championships you could see that there. It is all about making sure that we are focussed. The boys are flying in training and done really well in the games. We just have to make sure that we start that game well.

"I am pleased by the way the boys have worked hard in pre season and we are now looking forward to it all starting."

That has been delayed because the Betfred Cup section comprise five teams and the first round of fixtures sees Dunfermline without a game. The section kicks off on Friday night with Arbroath v Dundee United live on BT Sport and then Inverness are at Cowdenbeath on Saturday. The management will try to take in both the 20s friendly v Dundonald Bluebell on Saturday at noon and a match in the afternoon.

"We will try and cover all the different teams. I will go and watch Hibs tonight (v Brondby) just to give me an idea of the players that they have brought in and how they are playing for the new manager."

The management also took in the 20s first pre season friendly last Friday night in Edinburgh - a 1-0 win over Civil Service Strollers. He commented:-

"It was the first game for them all but positive to start with a win. They had enough chances to score a lot more goals if we are going to be critical. To be fair I do not think it looked like Civil Service were going to score but we should probably have scored three or four.

"They just need to keep building it up and make sure that they are stronger this year. Hopefully some of these boys will be pushing hard to get into the first team squad."

The 20s have received confirmation that they will be playing in the Development League again this season and their first league fixture is away to St Johnstone on Tuesday 23rd August.

Watch Allan Johnston speak to Pars TV on Thursday

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