Manager previews Partick Thistle match

With a virus going about KDM Group East End Park training was cancelled on Thursday as a precaution. Better news was the return of Kyle Benedictus, Rhys Breen and Sam Fisher to the training pitch this week. The manager joked that Chris Hamilton’s good recent performances might keep Kyle out of the team and he also revealed how much he enjoyed watching this Saturday’s opponents, Partick Thistle, play Raith Rovers last Friday. James McPake started with his update on his squad’s health:-

“I am being honest with you, the players are okay – there are a couple, probably like at every club will have at the minute, every family, every household have complained of sore throats and whatever. There has been a bit of sickness in the staff, hence the reason all the staff are off, only me and Dave are here.

“There is obviously something going about the building but that will certainly not be an excuse. If we have five or six sick overnight then it’s tough but we are hoping that with only two or three in before we got the message out this morning and they were swiftly told to go home.  Only me and Dave are in, if the two of us gets it we will do our best to be there on Saturday, if one of us gets it it’s not a problem.

“If there are five or six missing people we will know that it is because of that, but we have had five or six missing in certain games and never used it as an excuse and we never will. As long as we have eleven to go on the pitch then we expect a performance and our fans will expect us to win the game regardless of who that eleven is.”

Caution with Captain’s Return

Confirming the return to training of defenders Benedictus, Breen and Fisher, the manager revealed Andrew Tod is back running but not taking part yet in training sessions. He discussed the care than needs to be taken over his captain’s return:-

“It’s been good, a nice wee lift for everybody in terms of seeing your team mates back on the pitch. Just as is normal, when you get good players back the standard of training just soars, it is good. 

“All are available. Obviously there are different levels to that in terms of the load and the time out. Fisher is an easier one because he has only been out a week or whatever. Bene and Breeny have been out since the same game at Raith. Bene had the period out before that so I will certainly not feel, as much as they are important players, desperate to get them back in. More on the case of risk than anything else.

“Kyle Benedictus is our captain and we all know how important he is but you weigh it up. Do you throw him back in risking an overload issue and a new injury due to the deconditioning? Do you say right ‘we want to win this game badly we pick our most experienced players and our captain’.

“I will not be overly cautious because of that. I will probably take the same approach as we always do, weigh it up with the medical department and staff to decide what’s best for the team but most importantly what’s best for Kyle Benedictus.

“But Kane for example, he came back after doing all the training and goes and picks up three completely different unrelated injuries. Bene’s one was completely unrelated but on the back of that I will still take the same approach.”

Credit for Chris Hamilton

James is delighted with the way Chris Hamilton has led the team and mustered the defence in Kyle Benedictus’ absence:-

“My decision might be to put Bene on the bench because Hammy has been that good he might not get in! Hammy has been excellent, it was a big test against Airdrie and I think they looked at it that way as well knowing Todorov. Would I have done the same? Possibly. I worry about Nikolay because I know that he has goals in him but Hammy handled him like an experienced centre back not a 22 year old former midfielder turned centre back. 

“It is not an easy job when they are putting balls into your box and long balls up.  Hammy is a clever player, defensively so switched on to danger and where danger can come from. He will nip in knowing that he will not get a run in behind because if he does get beat he has Aaron Comrie and Ewan Otoo that can look after Toddy. It is different if it’s against someone who is rapid quick but someone who is rapid quick might not be able to score the goals that Nikolay can. You need to find different ways of doing that.

“We probably don’t give him enough credit for his game intelligence and we keep forgetting that he is still a young kid. For someone like that his game intelligence is good, his body shape is always good when he is defending as a midfielder or as a centre back. 

“I was really pleased for him on Saturday because there would have been a worry in his mind that Toddy was a key member of this team last year. He would have been worried knowing that Airdrie were going to fire balls into the box. They were going to be more direct than they have ever done because of that. They were always going to do that knowing that Chris Hamilton was playing there but I thought he rose to it. He stood up to that challenge and I think he enjoyed it actually.”

Thistle’s Threats

The manager watched  Partick lose 4-3 to Raith last Friday night, he thought it a very good watch and his already registered threats were confirmed on the night:-

“They are a good side Partick but so are Raith that’s how they got the win. As a neutral it was a very enjoyable game to watch. With the rivalry in Fife, neutral will come across daft but as a football fan sitting watching it knowing we are playing Partick the following week, I was a complete neutral at that game.

“In the last couple of years they have been really good. Even under Ian McCall when he had his injuries too, I remember playing them in the Scottish Cup and they were without a few. After that they got Rangers in the next round, he got that game and then he goes. Kris Doolan did a fantastic job and was just a penalty shootout away from getting to the Premiership.

“If Ian had stayed there, I don’t know how it would have played out but he’s a good manager who gets players playing well and he’s got a proven track record of getting promotions as well.  Even going back to when I was in the Championship before, they’ve always been a dangerous side. It’s a good football club.

“The way they play just now they’re a real attacking threat. They’ve got a proven goalscorer in Brian Graham. You know with him there’s goals in that team. They’ve got two very good wide players who they utilise and use, and they’re a big threat from setplays. I knew that before watching last Friday’s game so I was able to switch off a bit and enjoy the game, thankfully because it was an enjoyable game to watch.”

Supporters Information: Dunfermline v Partick Thistle

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