Number nineThursday, 18th Feb 2021
Craig Wighton:- “I just hope that I can hit the ground running. It is not too long since I played. I have played enough football this year so I am fit and ready to go
It has been quite a week with Storm Darcy bringing snow and disruption to the East of Scotland. Disruption included Dunfermline Athletic’s training and scheduled league match at home to Dundee.
For the Pars latest on loan signing Craig Wighton his week was transformed from training with Hearts to joining Dunfermline and being given the number nine shirt. After an agreement was reached with Hearts on Friday to allow the former Scotland U21 internationalist to come to East End Park, Craig found himself strangely back in very familiar surroundings. He gave an account of his first experiences as a Dunfermline player:-
“Obviously it is good to get settled in and have a few days training before the game at the weekend. Everyone has been making me feel welcome, it has been tough but it has been enjoyable.
“We trained at the Oriam on Saturday. I had thought that was me done with that place but I was back there the next day! With the weather it was the only place that we could get. It is a good facility.
“That was the first time that I met the boys so that was good. Then we have been at Alloa this week. The training has been a good, a good standard and a good intensity.”
Craig had signed a pre contract with Dunfermline at the beginning of this month and would have joined the Pars in the summer but the loan deal came as a great relief to Craig. He continued:-
“As soon as Hearts signed the new striker at the start of January I was told that I wasn’t in their plans and to find something else. That was before we had even spoken to clubs about a pre contract.
“When we started looking Dunfermline came up so we got the pre contract done as quickly as we could with a view to going on loan in January.
“The longer this dragged on I thought I was going to have to wait until the summer. I am happy to get it done and it means that I can get settled in before signing in the summer.”
Craig had started nine of Hearts eighteen matches this season and come on as a sub in another six. He scored a hattrick against Raith Rovers in the Betfred Cup, an important equaliser at Arbroath and a brace against Ayr United on Boxing Day. He scored the opener in the Scottish Cup semi final against Hibernian and personally felt that he was making a significant contribution to the team’s success:-
“The season before I wasn’t playing and I could understand it. But this season I think that I have done well enough when I have played, especially when I am played through the middle. I have played wide a few times but I thought that I had done enough in the games that I played.
“Maybe not enough to earn a contract beyond the summer but I thought i had done enough to be in the plans until the end of the season. Obviously it wasn’t meant to be. It is up to the manager at the end of the day and obviously he didn’t agree with that.”
In dealing with the disappointment, Craig claimed that had to be used as motivation.
“Football is ruthless at times, I am sure that it won’t be the last time that it happens to me in my career.
Craig was looking forward to a fresh start in the summer but is delighted to be allowed to arrive early. Now he will be able to help the push between now and the end of the season to finish as high up the league as possible.
“That is a big thing, I just hope that I can hit the ground running. It is not too long since I played. I have played enough football this year so I am fit and ready to go whenever the manager needs me.”
The ambition to help win promotion to the Premiership was a major factor in Craig’s decision to join Dunfermline. After speaking to Stevie Crawford and knowing the way they play having been a recent opponent it was an easy choice to make:-
“Given their start to the season, the play offs have to be the aim. I just felt that there was a chance of really going and having a good season. They have a young, exciting squad so maybe it was just a mix of everything.
“I had a good chat with the manager, his plans for me and the club. I just had a gut feeling that this was the right move for me and I’m hoping to hit the ground running.
“It is a tough league, there are no easy games in this league, whether at home or away. There will be a lot of tough games between now and the end of the season. If they keep doing what they are doing and hopefully I can add to that, then I don’t see a reason why we would not make the play offs. They will be tough but hopefully we can get there.”
It is still too early to know when Craig will make his first start for his new club
“I will just keep training and, whether from the start or off the bench hopefully I will get some minutes and we get the three points.”
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