Dunfermline Athletic

uSwitch Craigen has energy for change

Friday, 1st Mar 2019

There is no comparison with James Craigen when it comes to flexibility

Self proclaimed Mr Utility James Craigen has displayed his versatility this season by accepting roles across the midfield and now at both full back positions. When Jackson Longridge had to pull our in the warm up at Somerset Park on Saturday, James was told ‘uSwitch’ into the vacated left back role as Ryan Williamson started in place of his injured team mate. James said:-

“I have played in probably every position except striker and centre half. I was left back for a couple of games while we have been struggling with injuries but I am happy to play wherever the manager wants me to play really.”

If ever there was a need for an outfield player to go in goals, don’t be surprised that James Craigen has already contemplated it.

Firstly it was Ryan Williamson’s absence that had James playing at right back but now Jackson Longridge’s knee problem coupled with the absence of Lewis Martin with a niggling injury, has meant James starring on the left. He feels that he has been fortunate to have two coaches at Dunfermline, Greg Shields and Callum Davidson, who have great experience in those roles. He continued:-

“They are defenders who have played at a very high level. Shieldsie and Cal have been great with me, giving me little pointers since I am not used to playing full back and especially switching over to the left side. They have been helping me, showing me video clips. It is good to have people like that who are full of energy and both have been good for the whole group.”

Playing on the left side of the park is nothing new since the 27 year old who joined the Pars during the January transfer window in 2018, had been deployed there at previous clubs including Raith Rovers and Falkirk.

“I have always been quite lucky to have two good feet. It has not been too bad, I am comfortable on the left side. The first ten to fifteen minutes on Saturday it felt a bit strange being on that side but I adapted to it quite well and as long as we are getting clean sheets and the team is winning it is a good place to be at the moment.”

James confirmed that it is a very happy dressing room these days and the players are looking forward to meeting Queen of the South on Saturday especially with the potential to move into the top four:-

“Three wins on the bounce, nine points out of nine, three clean sheets - it can’t really get much better than that.

“We need to keep it going. There is no point in putting a run together just to stall. It will be another big game but we will take one game at a time and if we apply ourselves like we have done in the last three - solid at the back and let the forward players get into good positions to put the ball away and we will be okay.

“There is a massive incentive knowing that if you win, although Inverness will have a game in hand, you can actually go fourth by getting the points on the board. To go fourth, you don’t need any better incentive than that. Not many people would have predicted that a couple of weeks ago!”

Hopefully Craigen and company can keep it going against Queen of the South and at Alloa the following week. He agreed:-

“With the next two fixtures what a chance we have got. Queens have arguably the best player in the league, he is always a danger. They are not on a great run of form at the moment but this league is crazy.

“We need to be on it, approach it like we have the last three games. It is all about our attitude in Saturday, we cannot expect just to turn up and things will happen.

“We are all fighting for one another and desperate not to concede any goals. That is how it should be, if a striker gets away the next person should be there to try and win the ball back.

“It is nice to score from setpieces. It has been a long time coming but a couple of great deliveries from Ryan Blair, putting it in the area with pace on the ball. Bruce got a couple of poachers goals and Danny Devine with a fantastic header. It is nice to spread the goals around and not rely on one person.”

James has played play offs every season for the last three. He was at Raith when they faced Hibs in the First Division play off in 2015-2016 and then the following season for Falkirk against Dundee United. Last season he felt that Dunfermline should have come through their First Division play off against Dundee United. He therefore knows how important it is to teams to peak for that possibility but while acknowledging that it is vital to keep the current momentum going, feels it is too soon to be thinking about that:-

“In the position that we were in before, we had to win games. We have put a run together from that middle zone where we were five points off the bottom and five points off the play offs. We had to put a run together and if we can keep this run going and that takes us to the play offs good but there will be a lot of swings and roundabouts in the last ten games.

“It is not as if there are just five or six games to go, there is a long way to go still. If we can continue this run we could make the play offs but last year we had momentum going into it as well. We should have beaten Dundee United last year.

“You would rather go into them in a good run of form than slipping down the league and just scraping the play offs. You would rather go in there with a few wins under your belt. It is up to us now, it is ten games and we can turn these games into wins, it is just about the attitude and the mentality. The manager has instilled into us that we have to work hard, be solid and you will get your rewards.”

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