Manager on ThursdayThursday, 26th Oct 2017
On Saturday Allan Johnston is expecting Dunfermline Athletic to face a totally different Inverness Caley Thistle team from the one that his side defeated 5-1 in the first home league game of the season:-
"If you look at their last four games I don`t think that they have lost a goal. It just shows you that they are defending a lot better. They have a lot of good players - guys like Polworth and Tremarco who even from left back scored a few goals in the Premier League. They have a lot of guys who have played in the Premier League so it is going to be a real test but it is one that we go into full of confidence."
There is great expectations that newly relegated Caley Thistle could bounce back up at the first attempt just like they did in 2010. The Dunfermline gaffer considered them a Premier League club:-
"They have been there for the last few years and had a lot of success in the Premier League. They have virtually the same type of players - there has not been many players left. It is a similar squad and people expect them to come straight back up which adds a lot of pressure on them."
The manager might have Michael Paton to add to his squad since he has started training this week. David Hopkirk will miss the trip north despite doing some running.
Looking back on the last match, a 3-1 win over Livingston, AJ said:-
"It was really good, good to get back to winning ways with a good performance against a team that is playing really well just now, he of the form teams of the division. It just shows you how well we played and we have got to make sure we put in the same kind of performance this weekend as well.
"We scored some great goals. Fraser (Aird) showed a bit of class coming inside and finishing really well. I don`t think Fraser is short of confidence so it was great to see him going and scoring a goal of that quality. Hopefully there is many more of that type to come."
At a time when Joe Cardle is back after a hamstring injury Fraser Aird`s performance has created just what Allan Johnston is always looking for - good players and competition in all areas. Hopefully that will push us on.
"Fraser had not played a lot of games before he arrived, even at Falkirk, so it has taken him a bit of time to get up to speed.
"Going away with Canada has probably given his confidence a bit of a boost. You can see that he has attributes, he has pace, is really positive and hard to play against. We just have to make sure that he creates that kind of performance week in week out."
Joe Cardle has been out since mid September and although he came on for the last ten minutes against Livingston on Saturday, his manager felt that it would take time for the league`s leading goalscorer to get back to where he was. He continued:-
"He has not had any games, he has only trained five or six days and has to get up to speed again, then there is real competition for places. That is what you are looking for and Fraser can play right or left. Joe is a big player for us, he has scored a lot of goals. Higgy is a big player for us and it is great when you have that quality in your team."
Although usually setting up goals, Kallum Higginbotham scored two of his own on Saturday. AJ felt that despite his player being in great form this season, goalscoring was something that he needs to add to his game.
"Obviously he creates a lot of chances, he has a great relationship with Ryan Williamson. They link up really well together but it is great that he got a couple."
The manager laughed as he described the first Higgy goal on Saturday:-
"Sometimes you need that bit of luck but his second goal he took really quick. There wasn`t much time at the edge of the box, he got into a good area and got his shot away. It is something that he needs to do a bit more often."
Callum Smith and Stuart Morrison (currently on loan to Edinburgh City) have been named in Donald Park`s squad for the Under 19 UEFA Qualifying Round in Luxembourg early next month.
Scotland go into the matches off the back of a warm-up double header against France. There are three matches starting on 8 November against the hosts then facing Albania and Czech Republic on 11 and 14 November. Allan commented:-
"It is brilliant, they deserve it. They have done really well and just need to keep on doing what they have been doing, working hard and playing as well. It is great experience going away with Scotland, playing with different players, different coaches and I`m sure that will bring them on.
"Hopefully the other boys get picked as well, Ryan Williamson for Scotland Under 21s and Callum Morris for Northern Ireland. But that would probably mean that our match against Morton would have to be called off. It is a massive game and we could not afford to be losing three or four of our best players away on international duty.
"It is great for the club to have players in contention. We have to make sure that we do what is right for us. We need to make sure that we get results. We want to have our strongest squad available."