Dunfermline Athletic

Manager on Thursday

Thursday, 6th Jan 2022

06/01/22: JH - “At times we shoot ourselves in the foot but for me there are so so many positives that makes me optimistic for the remainder of the season.

Manager John Hughes reflected on the 0-0 draw at Stark’s Park in the New Year derby:-

“The way the game went I felt that we had the better chances to win the match. It would have been nice to have picked up three points but it was nice to keep a clean sheet. There were positives in it but I agree with John McGlynn that it wasn’t a great game of football.

“It was a typical derby match so over the piece a draw was probably the right result although we had the better chances.”

John was pleased to have agreed a short term contract with Lewis Martin this week, suggesting that the 25 year old defender could be his best signing:-

“He has had a horrendous time with injuries but since I have come in, he has done a lot of work himself and he just gets his head down. He joined the group about a month ago, he has had two friendly matches, his fitness levels are not bad and I just feel that he is one who can play in a number of positions - right across the back line or in midfield.

“We are delighted to have him back, the contract is to the end of the season but it is now up to him to force his way into the first team to give us a decision to make in the summer.”

Above: Lewis Martin in action v Partick Thistle, 10th March 2020

The manager praised Lewis’ mental strength and claimed that it didn’t surprise him:-

“I see the way he trains and I just hope for his sake that lady luck shines on him a wee bit, he stays injury free and gets himself in that first team. His ability is not in question. He needs to get into the team and get a run of games.

“I am looking for competition for places at the club so it was important that we did that because he covers a number of positions but once he is fit he is good enough to get in and stay in there.

“He could be our best signing because of what it means to him, what the club means to him, what he brings on the training pitch and he knows the club inside out. You don’t have to babysit these guys.

“I like the way Lewis goes about in terms of his demands on his teammates on the training pitch. He has licence from me to do that. He sets a standard and I don’t think that it will be too long before he is in the first team if he keeps going the way he is going. We still have the reins on him a little bit but it won’t be too long before he is in the first team and if he is then we might be the better for it.”

The manager also had some good words for Vytas Gašpuitis (pictured above) who left the club this week:-

“I have never had a problem with big Vytas Gašpuitis and if anybody phones me about him I will put my name to him as a right sided centre half. It just so happens that he felt with not getting a game it was going to harm his international career.

“I felt that when he was not getting a game and missing his family that he did not have that outlet. It was just a conversation that we had and when I say I want to spin the plates, it is probably one that I wouldn’t want to do. Or if I was going to do it, it would have been later on in the window.

“We have to be creative and I’m quite sure that there might be one or two others, if I’m looking to bring players in, that might find themselves leaving that I don’t really want to leave or going out on loan just to generate cash to bring somebody else in. That is the way it is as long as what I’m doing is the right decision for the football club in the position that we are in right now, then we will go and do it.

“You need to look after the players’ welfare, the mental mindset of players is massive now. When he wasn’t playing you could see him dipping a little bit, we tried all that we can to try and pick him up. The final conversation with Vytas made it clear that he needed to be playing football on a regular basis for his international future. I could not really guarantee him that so we did what was best for both parties.

“Having said that I have had one or two clubs on the phone already and he is a proper professional. If we all conducted ourselves like him then we would be in a better place. I have not got a bad word to say about the big fellow. Even when he wasn’t playing he got on with it but you could see with him not being in the team it starting to affect him. Again, he wasn’t one that I didn’t want to leave but because it came up and because of the way it came up, it is one of the reasons why Donaldson came in.”

Mark Connolly (pictured above) is on loan from Dundee United but the manager made it clear that if there is a chance he would like to keep the big Northern Irishman:-

“He has been good for us. He is a warrior, he stands up to it, he is good about the boys and brings that experience. He demands of them on the training pitch, he has got a voice and it is a little frustrating that we cannot pin him down but hopefully we can do that this week. We are working on keeping him. He is still with us for another couple of games and hopefully by next week I will have an answer.”

Ross Graham who had also been on loan from Dundee United has returned to the Tayside club. John explained:-

“Big Ross went back to Dundee United just because he has never had game time. I feel that Ross has a real chance, I spoke to him and he was not a problem for me. He trained really well but never really got his chance here.

“Since I have come in I just feel that Rhys Breen is our project, we need to invest our time in Rhys. I’m not saying that it is going to be successful but Ross has to understand that. I know as he goes back to Dundee United that he has a big future in the game.”

Above: Kai Kennedy celebrates scoring v Queen of the South

Confirming that Kai Kennedy’s loan period at Dunfermline has ended, the manager said:-

“He has been very unlucky here. There is a talent there and I think that he has a big future in the game. With Rangers not letting him play in the Scottish Cup because of lack of game time, it was no surprise that there was the recall. That is down to bad luck.

“He was in the team but found himself not well and back out of the team. In football you cannot guarantee anybody a starting slot so he is away back. We just need to find someone who can covers us in there. There will be others coming because I still think that we are one or two short.”

The manager would not put any timescale on any forthcoming signings but just described the situation as ‘ongoing’:-

“We have our irons in every fire and it is can we do it, is he coming or going? Are there clubs in for a few of my players? All that has to come together for it to happen. You are hopeful and optimistic but I’ve been in football long enough not to count your chickens before they hatch. Especially when the agents tell you one thing and when you speak to other managers lo and behold they end up going to other clubs but that is football.”

The manager revealed that Iain Wilson is back on the training pitch but has a bit of catching up to do. Graham Dorrans (pictured above) should be available for Saturday’s game against Morton and the manager has that important match firmly in his sights:-

“We are preparing, looking at setpieces for and against. The training will be game specific and we know the importance of the game against Morton. We are where we are, we just need to dig in, stick together and if we consistently start performing like we did in certain parts of the game then we are not a bad side. So you are confident and you are optimistic.

“Like every other club with injuries and covid it is a really hard time. We lost Graham Dorrans and we lost Kai there at the weekend because of being close contacts but we will be no different from other clubs.

“We have a good bunch of hard working boys and I think that has been evident since I have come to the club. At times we shoot ourselves in the foot but for me there are so so many positives that makes me optimistic for the remainder of the season.

“As a player you have to embrace the challenge, take it on board and use it as your fuel. Go forward and prove people wrong. That is what I’m saying to the players. I have got great belief in them, I see them doing things on the training pitch - go and do it on a Saturday on that stage, if they do then we will be better for it.”

The manager also spoke to Jordan Burt for ParsTV

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