Dunfermline Athletic

Manager on Thursday

Thursday, 29th Dec 2022

29/12/22: Kevin O’Hara ready for comeback against his former club.

Dunfermline boss James McPake was pleased to report that his players and management team had returned after the Christmas break refreshed and ready to prepare for their next match at home to Falkirk on Monday 2nd January. He told the media at lunchtime:-

“I think it was good the way the fixtures came around, it was different, it was refreshing. I might have been saying this slightly differently had we not got the three points at Kelty but it made for a good couple of days and now we are back to work. I enjoyed the way Christmas came around this year. It was good for the players, they got to spend it with their families.”

With nine days between matches the additional recovery time and preparation time has been a welcome bonus:-

“There are no real issues from the game in terms of injury. Todorov had a slight knock but he is fine, so it has been a good week so far with plenty time to work in terms of time on the pitch.

“You don’t normally get that period either when you go Saturday then the following Monday. That allowed us to give the players a couple of days off and then it has allowed us to get a lot of work into the ones who need it before getting the group back together so it has been good.”

As scorer of the winning goal, Lewis McCann was the hero on Christmas Eve and the manager confirmed the 21 year old striker has been fine since:-

“He has been great and he has trained well. I am really pleased with Lewis he has been excellent for a period now in terms of getting back from injury, rehab and then finishing off that period of the injury with a goal at Kelty. He is confident, he is looking fit and he is looking strong.”

Good news too on Kevin O’Hara with expectations of him taking part fully in training on Friday and nineteen year old Miller Fenton returning after making eleven starts in his 12 appearances at Berwick Rangers:-

“Kevin has done his final bit of rehab so as long as there is no reaction overnight then he will be available for Monday. We are getting better. Kevin and Miller will both come back. Miller is back from his loan so that’s another addition to the squad. Paul (Allan) is still a little bit away but he getting better week after week.

“You could see the difference up at Kelty when you could bring on four senior players. Lewis had come on first and then we did the triple substitution with Macca, Hammy and Todorov.

“It is good to able to bring that quality of player on. It is tough leaving them out in the first place so great to have the option to bring them on and it always helps when they affect the game. We were able to bring those four on and still have Robbie Mahon on the bench, add Kevin and Miller in to that then the squad is looking strong.”

James McPake revealed that Dunfermline had ‘eyes’ on most of Miller’s games and thought that he did really well before sustaining an injury:-

“We weren’t too bothered in terms of how the loan went it was just a case of Miller had come through Covid and had been training really well up until that period. He was getting ninety minutes in and he played in the Reserve League Cup games for us as well I’m sure. I have been pleased with him, he will stay here until the end of the season now.

“We are past the suspension window now and instead of six yellow cards before suspension, you can get twelve now. Hopefully none of them get that. Yes, the squad is looking good but we know the way football is we will not jinx it by talking too much about it.”

Asked if there was any likelihood of other loans going out, James confirmed that he had had a few phone calls but nothing that has interested him too much and if anybody does go out it will be one of the younger players.

With a squad of 16 senior players, four on loan players and five Under 18 players most have been deployed at some stage this season and the manager feels that even with injuries restricting team selections that has been part of the success so far:-

“I think that would have been the case if we had say eighteen classed as first team regulars. The way that we have managed the squad has meant a lot of them playing in most games. They are training a lot but the base work was all done in pre season. We have played a three, we have played a four at different times and obviously that suits different players. We face different challenges particularly here at home, teams come and be defensive but take Kelty for example, they came here and had a real go at us.

“Players are never happy when you do leave them out but that’s great. What they do is, when you talk about the Arbroath game for example, make it hard to change after that. But we will always pick a team for that week that we believe has the best chance of winning the game.

“Up at Kelty the team that we did pick wasn’t right, I don’t mind that. That’s why we will never be too rigid, we will never get too head strong on an eleven and say that’s what we need to go with because there are quality players here who all have different attributes, different styles which and it might be during a game or it might be before the game we identify an eleven that we think right.

“We will never get too hung up on a win or a defeat and say we need to rub that out and start again.

“Right from the very start, whether it be in training or in games, that was something as a coaching staff that we tried to implement and be comfortable doing that. The players deserve a lot of credit because they are the ones that can pull that off, they have been excellent. Yes, you can have the ideas but they have to buy into it. I think everyone has seen that when we do change in a game, they are very familiar with what we are doing.”

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