Dunfermline Athletic

Manager on Monday

Monday, 5th Oct 2020

05/10/20: SC - “ Pre season has not been ideal but it has not been ideal for all the clubs. We are not a club that will use the League Cup as pre season games. It is definitely going to be a competitive competition for us.

Stevie Crawford is preparing for his team’s first competitive match of the season while trying to cope with all the protocols required to be followed during the Covid-19 pandemic. Things like the generation of electronic team lines and unseen detail that the coaching staff are having to deal with.

“The boys are looking forward to their first competitive game. They are hungry to get going in competitive football again. Given the amount of time that they were out, I would have preferred them to have played a game or two more to try and build up their game time. Every team has faced the same challenges so we are definitely not going to use that as an excuse.

“Having spoken to our contacts in the Premier League, every squad faced the same challenges that way - boys being out for as long as they were but coming back and kicking balls on a daily basis, you pick up strains and niggling injuries.”

Without naming names the manager confirmed that a couple of players will be ruled out for Tuesday night’s match at Dumbarton. In the main most of the players are fit and ready for the kick off.

Restrictions have meant that players not been able to use the gym at a East End Park and Stevie speculated whether or not that might creating potential for niggling injuries:-

“You have to think out of the box and come up with other ways. On the medical side, Jamie (Sutton) and Gary (McColl) have tried to make sure that we are looking after players in the right manner to give the boys the best possible chance to be fit for the season.

“There have been boys picking up injuries after maybe been our for three or four days at a time. There are only a few who have ended up with injuries that have lasted longer than three or four days. Everything seems to have been going well on that side.”

Referring to previous Covid-19 caused problems at clubs in Scottish football, Stevie responded:-

“There has been negative press instead of flipping it the other way to reflect on all the hard work and not giving us a pat on the back for trying to provide entertainment for people out there. As long as people are being respectful at their clubs, not going out there and being ignorant and neglecting the protocols then I am just hopeful that football can continue and get stronger until we are in a position where we can get crowds back in.”

Having it pointed out that with Kilmarnock players being placed in quarantine for 14 days there must be doubt over the fixture at Rugby Park scheduled for Tuesday 13th October, Stevie said that was outwith their control:-

“Yes, I am fully aware of what is happening at Kilmarnock but the reality is that they are facing something that as a football club, they will deal with. I spoke to the players last week when we heard about the outbreak of the virus at Kilmarnock. There is no point worrying about that at the moment because that would take our attention away from the Dumbarton game. We just want to get off to a positive start tomorrow night.”

It has not been like a normal pre season but Stevie is optimistic that his players fitness will be up to full level:-

“They have had to deal with something that was never thrown at me in my career as a player. All I can say is that our boys have worked extremely hard under restricting guidelines.

“I think is the enjoyment and making sure that we look after them in terms of game time in the early parts of the League Cup if we can while also trying to win games of football.

Stevie worked under Dumbarton’s manager Jim Duffy at Hibs and knows just how shrewd, clever tactical manager he is:-

“He knows the game inside out, he will have his players ready for us tomorrow night and we will have to be at our best to come away with three points.”

The match will be Dunfermline’s first competitive match to be played in the absence of fans but the manager is sure that his players will be hungry and desperate for the action:-

“Over lockdown they have missed the competitive element. In the first week or ten days in training you could see that and then it settled down a little bit. Now as we are closer to the League Cup campaign the players know themselves. They have been reminded over the last couple of days that it now a competitive fixture and that there is something at stake.

“I know that it is hard because supporters are not going to be able to physically be there to watch it. It is something that we as a management staff have not experienced. When we are actually put into that situation, it will be interesting to see how tomorrow goes in that respect. I can only go by what I have seen on the training pitch and seen in pre season games, I fully expect the boys to be hungry and wanting to do well tomorrow night.”

After Tuesday night’s match at Dumbarton there is only 70 hours before Dunfermline face Falkirk in the televised Betfred Cup tie at home to Falkirk. To what extent had the manager taken this into consideration with his team selection? Stevie smiled and said:-

“You have been listening to me in training this morning! It is not trying to be clever, a wise head once told me that you have to focus on the next game and try and win that. We got off to a great start last year against St Mirren and we have focused fully on picking a side that will hopefully win tomorrow night against Dumbarton.

“From that we will then focus on the Falkirk game. There will be other options, possibly a different style of play regarding who is up for selection for that game.”

The manager dismissed any suggestion that the Betfred Cup games will be treated like pre season friendlies:-

“Over the last number of seasons Dunfermline has progressed from the group stages and when I look at the group it is going to be a very difficult group with three teams from League One in it and then obviously Premiership opposition but our goal is to get out of the group. That is the immediate target and I think that it is a realistic target. Anything that goes beyond that great.

“Pre season has not been ideal but it has not been ideal for all the clubs. We are not a club that will use the League Cup as pre season games. It is definitely going to be a competitive competition for us.

“Premiership clubs have been back for a number of weeks now so that will make it very difficult (for lower league clubs) but you have got to have ambition. If I was a player going into it, I always wanted to progress in cup competitions as far as I could go. I am not going to take that away from my players.

“It is important that when we are a club like ourselves, a club like Dunfermline have progressed to the later stages of the tournament but I am not looking any further than us getting out of the group stages.”

Asked if Dunfermline might be active right up to the transfer deadline tonight, SC replied:-

“The one thing that everybody could see was that we did a lot of our business in the earlier parts of the summer. We managed to land a lot of the targets that we had aimed for and done our homework on. I always say ‘never say never’ but in regards to bringing players in I do not see us venturing into the transfer market before the deadline.”

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