Manager James McPake gave an insight into the condition of several players and the ongoing commitment of the club to player welfare.
Captain Kyle Benedictus is working through a recovery regime that includes alternating weight-bearing exercises. “Bene is in and out his boot, exposing it to full weight bearing and then he will wear the boot. He is working away hard in the gym but I don’t know his timescale,” said James.
Concerns over Andrew Tod:
Seventeen year old Andrew Tod faces challenges with a calf issue, located just behind the knee. The manager appreciated his proactive approach in consulting the physio and getting a scan. James also took this opportunity to laud the club’s approach to player care. He stated, “Credit to the football club because we are going through a lot with injuries, scans, and surgeries. Whether it’s a young kid like Andrew, Kyle Benedictus, or Matty Todd, they are all getting the same treatment.”
Rhys Breen’s Comeback:
Another positive development is the expected return of Rhys Breen (pictured above). James confirmed:-
“Rhys Breen will start training all going well on Monday. That’s a bonus to us and with Breeny coming back that frees up options – you can play Otoo wherever you want. It is just another option and when Breeny is fit and on it he is as good as any other of our defenders. He will probably need a couple of weeks training and the reserve game next week (away v Queen of the South) will probably come too soon for him. He works that hard in the gym, he might be fit enough but it might be reckless to risk him in that.”
McPake, understanding the emotional and mental toll of injuries, has allowed players like Matty Todd and Kane Ritchie-Hosler personal time off. The manager explained:-
“We have allowed Matty to go on a break with his girlfriend. I gave him tickets to Paulo Nutini as well – I’m too good to them sometimes. I was gutted for him when he got that injury so hopefully wee things like that can make a difference. Kane is at home spending some time with his family.
“They are human beings and they are hurting. I don’t mean physically hurting but mentally hurting because they want to be playing. The team is doing well, they want to be out there and ultimately for us it is about taking care of the individual. I know we want to win games but these people are close to us, we work with them every day and if we can make them feel that wee bit better then we will do that.”
Deniz Mehmet Returns:
Good news for fans, goalkeeper Deniz Mehmet has returned to training in impressive form and will be back in the squad this weekend. His return creates a pleasant goalkeeping dilemma in store for James McPake as Deniz and Harry Sharp are set to compete for the starting role. The manager said:-
“They are two very very good goalkeepers. Two goalkeepers that are different. Harry has been great since he came in, he made a mistake at Inverness but what goalkeeper doesn’t make a mistake? He has come in, integrated into the group and I’m delighted to have him here. I have known him since he was sixteen. I know what he can do, I played him at Dundee. I’m delighted Deniz is back and now have the two of them.
“Max Little is there pushing them and since Deniz has come back into training I have seen an improvement in Harry and Max. It has given that edge.”