Dunfermline Athletic

Craig Wighton arrives on loan

Friday, 12th Feb 2021

Loan deal agreed with Hearts for 23 year old striker

Having signed a pre contract earlier this month that would make him a Dunfermline player in the summer, Craig Wighton has now been loaned to the Pars from Hearts until the end of the season. He told the website how he felt about his move being advanced:-

“Good, it is a bit unexpected obviously. We tried to get it done in the window to come now but it didn’t happen. We were trying and trying but the longer it went on I thought I would just have to wait until the summer. To be able to come now and hopefully play a part between now and the end of the season, I am just looking forward to it.”

Craig has not played at Hearts since 2nd January, so admitted that it is a relief to get out and play games.

“I was told then that I wasn’t in their plans and to find something else. When I signed the pre contract we were trying to get the loan done now. Hearts were saying that they didn’t want me to come here and start. It has just taken a lot longer than it probably should have. I am here now and so I’m just looking forward to getting going.

“I don’t know what changed their mind but I’m just glad that they have because it would have meant that I was just training away with the reserves until the end of the season which made no sense. To come here and play a part until the summer and be here beyond that is good and I’m looking forward to it.”

Although Craig made 92 appearances at Dundee, he only made 37 at Hearts over three seasons.

“It was frustrating. In my first season at Hearts, when I did play I probably didn’t do enough to stay in the team. I picked up a couple of injuries along the way that probably didn’t help but at the start of this season I got in the team, I was scoring goals, playing well and then all of a sudden I was told that I wasn’t in the plans. These things happen in football.

“As soon as I knew that I didn’t want to sit there until the end of the season. I’d rather go and play football, play games and I was delighted to get my future sorted for the summer but I was desperate to come here just now and play a part between now and the end of the season. Hopefully a successful season here.”

How did you end up coming to Dunfermline?

“It was through my agent and then by speaking to the manager here. I had a good long chat with him and I had spoken to other people who have either been here or known him from his time at Hearts. They were all very positive and so I had a good gut feeling that Dunfermline was the right place for me to come, continue to develop and hopefully kick on, start playing regularly and scoring goals.”

Was it an attraction that Stevie Crawford was a striker as well?

“Definitely a further fact that he was a striker, I can learn from him and he can help me bring my game on. There are a good group of boys here, good players and a mixture of everything. I spoke to the chairman who made me welcome. It is important to feel welcome and I felt that was the case here, I am just looking forward to it.”

Craig went through his medical on Friday, was covid tested and hopes to join the squad to train at the Oriam on Saturday. His team mates will all be new to him except for the one member of the squad he has played with before:-

“I was in a few Scotland squads with Iain Wilson, so I get on quite well with him. That will help me settle in.”

Stevie Crawford has already said that he sees Craig primarily in a striker’s role but he added:-

“That is important and that is where the manager sees me. Over the last three years I have probably played in different positions but I am willing to do that. I can play wide, as number ten and any of the front positions I can play. I probably play my best football when I’m playing as a striker. It will be up to me to do enough earn a spot there.”

From playing against them while on loan to Arbroath last season and in the Championship for Hearts in November, Craig knows Dunfermline’s style of play and he said:-

“I think it will suit me. It’s a young exciting squad where everyone is keen to improve and learn. The game at Arbroath finished 0-0 on a windy night like it always is there but the game here for Hearts, they came here thinking they were on a good run and they got a shock.

“I was impressed by the workrate and the talent that they had here. There are a lot of good exciting players here, hopefully I can add to that.”

Craig feels that Dunfermline can rightly be optimistic about making a play off place.

“That has got to be the aim after the start to the season. They are in a great position and it is a tough, tough league. We just need to take one game at a time, work hard and try and earn the points to finish in the play offs. Anything can happen after that but that is certainly the aim.”

Craig Wighton started off playing at Dryburgh Athletic Community Club and signed for Dundee at the age of ten while still attending Harris Academy. He came through the youth ranks at Dundee and he turned down a move to local rivals Dundee United as his family are Dundee supporters. made his first team debut aged 16 in October 2013.

A month later he became Dundee’s youngest ever scorer, heading home his first senior goal against Raith Rovers as The Dee would go on to lift the Championship title.

Loan spells at Brechin City and Raith Rovers followed before Craig returned to Dundee for the second-half of the 2015/16, when he famously scored the 93rd minute winner that relegated city rivals Dundee United.

A knee ligament injury cruelly stopped his 2017/18 season before it even started. After being out for seven months he returned to action before the campaign was out, featuring in matches against Celtic and Rangers.

He made a total of 92 appearances in a dark blue shirt and scored eight goals.

Craig moved to Hearts in August 2018 and he has currently made 37 appearances. Daniel Stendel loaned him out to Arbroath where he scored three goals in five games before covid ended the 2019-2020 season.

He scored his first goals for Hearts when he scored a hat-trick in the Betfred Cup match against Raith Rovers in October last year and went on to play for Hearts as a substitute in the 2020 Scottish Cup Final.

A regular on the Scotland scene, Craig has been capped at every level from U15s to U21s.

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