As Dunfermline gear up for Saturday’s away match against Dundee United, manager James McPake is eager to get back on the pitch after an unexpected three-week hiatus. The last match, the Friday night game at Hampden on 5th January , seems like a distant memory for James and his squad.
“You only really get that over a summer break. It’s not been ideal, but we’ve worked away, and the players will be prepared for Saturday, as they were for the last two games,” James commented on the extended break. “Saturday, looking at the weather, nothing crazy is to happen. So the game will go ahead, and we’ll be ready for it.”
The weather-enforced break has had a silver lining for James, as it allowed his squad to get stronger. “Certainly, from the Queen’s Park game, it’s stronger. From last week, it’s pretty similar. It certainly is stronger than it was at Hampden, that Friday night,” he added.
One player who’s been ready to contribute is recent signing Malachi Fagan-Walcott on loan from Cardiff City. James suggested, “If you were to ask him, he’d have said he rather would have played. He’s been playing week to week, albeit under-23 football or whatever it may be. Mal had come up and he was ready to go. He would have gone straight into the team as well, so for him, it’s probably been a bit of a disappointment.”
Including the SPFL Trust Trophy, this will be the fourth time these sides have met this season the upcoming match against league leaders, Dundee United, poses a significant challenge, and James is cautious not to take confidence from their previous league encounter – the Pars first away match of the league campaign in August:-
“It’s far too long ago now. The two league games have been very tight, two really good games if you were to sit back and watch them. They’re a decent team, they’re a team that have come out and said that they want to win the title.”
James also provided insight into the ongoing transfer window, indicating that more players are expected, though not likely for the upcoming match. “We still are working away and expecting more to come in. It’s not so much a domino effect now because you can see a lot of them moving, a lot of teams are moving people on. It should accelerate a bit now because the Premier League needs to finish on Wednesday.”
Having hinted two weeks ago that two players might arrive, only one has been signed and the manager shared, “That player is still at his parent club and would be one that would have to be done before Thursday’s deadline because he is not based in Scotland. There is still a bit of work going on in the background with that. That is maybe the one that we could have before Saturday but I’m very doubtful. That player is still there.”
Asked about the goalkeeper position, James replied, “Harry (Sharp) went back and he came on at the weekend and did pretty well for Dundee. Obviously Harry cannot go anywhere else and play now unless it’s us. We have Max and Den there at the minute, if anything changes with that we will assess it but at the minute the full focus is on other positions.”
As the transfer window deadline approaches, James emphasised the need for timely reinforcements. “We’re eager to get things done and we’re working hard to do that because even though some are coming back, we still know we need a bit of reinforcement in there.”
With the possibility of using emergency loan for goalkeepers, James concluded:- “Goalies are probably a tricky position to get but it’s the easiest one to go and get cover for if need be. We will wait and see what happens. That is well down my list at the minute.”