Dunfermline Athletic

Manager on Thursday

Thursday, 29th Sep 2022

29/09/22: Break gives players a chance to recover from injuries but Kevin O’Hara is out until December.

Pars manager James McPake has used the match-free period since drawing at home to Falkirk 12 days ago to prepare for what he expects to be yet another tough league match this time against Peterhead:-

“I know that they didn’t have a great result on Saturday there but they will view this as a chance to kick start their season and with no disrespect, it would be a big scalp for them to come here and win. That is what they will be trying to do and we can’t afford to be complacent, and we won’t be.

“The players will work as hard as they would do against Falkirk or whoever was coming here. We need to get the three points, we can’t let our guard down at all. For the fans as well we need to be at the levels that we have been at and the players know that we will not accept anything less.”

The Peterhead match is the first of six in the month of October but predictably the manager will take it one match at a time and claimed October would no more important than any other:-

“No more so than November or December, January, February, March. They are all big and we want to be positive in every month and we want to continue our good run. We want to win games but the first one coming at the very start is Peterhead. We need to be ready for that and put on a good performance. By doing that hopefully we come away with a positive result and then move on to Alloa Athletic.

“The scouts will be watching Alloa and the report will be on my desk first thing on Monday morning but first and foremost everything is focussed on Peterhead. We have trained well, we have worked well and the squad is healthy apart from Kevin O’Hara and Paul Allan. Paul is now out of his boot and has started upping his rehab which is a bonus for us.”

Kevin O’Hara however is going to take longer to fix with the gaffer revealing that his striker is likely to be in a brace for three to four weeks before he can commence his rehab:-

“It is a disappointing one for him personally because he has been excellent - his work rate, his desire to train and play the way that we have asked him, it has been great. He has been great to work with and it is disappointing for him and for us as a football club but injuries are par for the course and we got pretty good news from the surgeon so we are pleased in that sense and we will manage getting him back. Come December time we will get him back hopefully.”

Above: James McPake and Chris Mochrie

The Pars weekend off was due to Celtic having fourteen players away on international duty and Dunfermline had Chris Mochrie away with the Scotland under 21s. James took the positives out of the situation and continued:-

“We had no problem with the fixture being off. We will pick it up when it comes back around. We have worked hard, we had a couple of days off but it allowed Joe Chalmers to recover from a bit of a dead leg. He would have been fine but it just gave us the extra to fix that. We could step Craig Wighton up later on in the week in training when otherwise we would have been tapering down to the game. So he has had another week in terms of fitness work with the ball. There were another couple of niggles that we cleared up. You want to play, of course you do but you make the most of it when you don’t.”

Chris Mochrie made two appearances with Scotland U21s on Thursday and Sunday both times as a sub in the second half. His manager was delighted for him and said:-

“I am real pleased for him personally because he got called up once before and he had to withdraw with an injury so it was great recognition for him. With playing games hopefully he will continue to get in that squad.

Above: Craig Wighton in action v Livingston Reserves

“I wasn’t at the games but I have seen the games back and watched Chris’ involvement. It is excellent and he has come back with a spring in his step and I think that he is now match fit. That’s six games now he has played - three starts and three as sub - and the two Scotland U21 games. He has been in the team recently playing 90 minutes and looking a real threat.

“First and foremost he is great to work with, his attitude is fantastic and it is a shame that he is a Dundee United player and not our player! For as long as we have got him then we will use him. I think he enjoys being here and enjoys playing week in week out and being on a great pitch. He will be looking forward to Saturday as well.”

Since the match against Falkirk the reserves were in action against Livingston and in the 2-1 win a week past Tuesday. James was pleased with the competitive action:-

“Craig Wighton got 65 minutes, Chris Hamilton played and the beauty of the Celtic B game being off was that we could expose some of them to playing in the game. Aaron Comrie and Joe Chalmers had a great week although Joe picked up the knock in the reserve game. That is part of it, we want to be able to go to the next level a couple of times in a week in terms of pushing our bodies. That is why we had some of them playing in the reserves.

“We could have gone young with kids but Livingston did the same, they had a strong, experienced side out. By doing that you get a good game and a good work out for some.

Above: Chris Hamilton in action v Livingston Reserves

“If you ask Aaron what he would rather have done, trained or played? You want to play all the time - if you could play every midweek you would. The attitude was excellent because sometimes you are asking senior players, I know because I have been there myself, to go and play on a Tuesday afternoon when they have played well on the Saturday.

“Sometimes they can take the hump but they went and their attitude was great which helps the younger ones. We are trying to develop them as well plus we had Craig Wighton coming back, Chris Hamilton got some good minutes into him.”

Eighteen year old defender, Miller Fenton is on loan to Berwick Rangers but was eligible to play in the Reserve Cup match. James also watched him this week as the Wee Rangers won 1-0 away to Edinburgh University in the Lowland League, he added:-

“Miller has been excellent - we watched him last night in another game working with Stuart Malcolm. In the last month or so he has been excellent in training and in games, so we can see the benefit from the loan and with the reserve team, we will continue to do that.”

Above: Miller Fenton in action v Livingston Reserves

Asked about any loan signings for Dunfermline, the gaffer closed:-

“I am hopeful and it is not for the lack of trying. The club has been great when I have gone for a good number of targets and players have had a decision to make - do they want to come to this club? Sometimes it is not so much the club but the level if you are trying to get them from a higher level.

“We are actively trying but if there are doubts, then they are maybe not the right one for us anyway. We want to bring people in who can enhance this group. As I said earlier even in the transfer window before it became the loan window, we could have signed a lot of players to make the numbers up but it is not what we want to do, we want to add to the quality.

“We are still working away until tomorrow (Friday) at five o’clock. We will be speaking to another couple of players and we will see. It will not be a disaster if we don’t, albeit we would like to, but it is certainly not for the lack of trying by the club.“

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