Dunfermline Athletic

Graham keen to be loan star

Wednesday, 7th Jul 2021

“I was happy to sign a new deal at United but my main focus now is Dunfermline for the season. That is all that I am aiming for, just trying to achieve good things here for the year.”

Hot on the heels of Deniz Mehmet, Ross Graham has followed the Turkish keeper down the road from Dundee to Dunfermline. The 20 year old centre back was delighted to agree a season long loan at East End Park as he attempts to progress from loan deals in the previous two seasons at Elgin City and Cove Rangers. He explained that a reunion with another former Arab, Paul Watson is something that he is also looking forward to:-

“It is a huge club and I am delighted to be here and can’t wait to get started in the campaign. I have been in since the tail end of last week, trained for a day and played in a closed doors game against Hibs. I feel that I am fitting in well, all the lads have been good with me and it has been a positive start really.

“I have known Paul Watson and Deniz Mehmet over the last couple of years at United. I get on very well with them and they have been showing me around. It is good just to settle in with a couple of familiar faces.”

Ross claims that Paul Watson played a big part in his development at United even though the Blairgowrie born player was still a young boy. Admitting that playing alongside somebody is a much greater learning experience Ross praised the Dunfermline centre back for the way he helped him in the reserves and the way he talks you through games:-

“The way he reacted on the training ground was really eye opening for me in how professional he was. I started to learn from him and watching how he played for United.

“I am glad to be here with him so that I can learn even more from him because he is an experienced centre half. I am looking forward to playing alongside him again.”

The size of the club makes Dunfermline an ideal platform for Ross whose only first team appearances for Dundee United have been in the Challenge Cup. There are few bigger clubs outside the Premiership and that was an influence on his decision:-

“It is a huge club, you can see that just looking at the stadium, the ground and the pitch, it is massive. I am delighted to be able to play here this season.”

Ross is hoping that his loan to Dunfermline will also allow him to get game time at a higher level while trying to play his part in achieving the manager’s aim to win the Championship. He said:-

“I want to come here and play games, help the club go where they are trying to go. I want to learn from every game that I play and get experience in this division.

“We have a really good squad here so there is no reason why we can’t push at the top end of the table. I need to get that winning mentality for going back to United. Hopefully it gets bedded into me, going out there to win games. It doesn’t matter how we win them, just making sure that we get it over the line.”

While at Dunfermline Ross can be sure that United will be closely monitoring his progress especially since having just agreed a new deal to keep him at Tannadice until 2024. His previous on-loan experience tells him:-

“They will send scouts to every game and get in contact with the club and the coaching staff to see how I am getting on. They will phone me and ask how everything is going. They will keep tabs (on my loan) and when I go back I hope to be able to fight for a place there.

“I was happy to sign a new deal at United but my main focus now is Dunfermline for the season. That is all that I am aiming for, just trying to achieve good things here for the year.”

A first team place will need to be fought for and Ross acknowledged that it is a good squad that he has joined:-

“There is a lot of good players, I will need to fight for my place and when I get the jersey just play well and hopefully keep it. Nothing is ever guaranteed, it is down to the gaffer at the end of the day. I need to make sure that I’m training well and playing well to hopefully keep the shirt.”

Last season’s centre back loanee Lewis Mayo ended up with a midfield role so could Ross fulfil such a role?

“Predominantly I am a centre back but I can do a job for the team anywhere the gaffer puts me. I won’t shy away from anything but I am most comfortable at centre half on the left side of a back four or a back three.”

The success of Lewis Mayo and other loan players given an opportunity at Dunfermline last season was another reason Ross was keen to come to the Fife club, he revealed:-

“I looked into the club and what they do with young players and they are here to develop them as well. They wouldn’t have brought me here if they didn’t feel that I was good enough. I am just looking forward to the opportunity to develop my game and come out a better player at the end of it.”

Ross’ last two seasons have suffered disruption due to the pandemic. His loan at Elgin City terminated with the March 2020 lockdown and the experience at Cove Rangers suffered a ten week suspension from January until late March. He admitted it had been a frustrating last couple of seasons:-

“Hopefully we can make it through this season with no faults at all. I have played in League Two and then League One so the next gradual step is the Championship and then the following season in the Premiership. Taking it bit by bit each season and hopefully get to where I want to go in the end.”

Despite ups and downs at Cove Rangers when an unused sub for three successive matches in December, Ross felt that he developed a lot as a player.

“There were times I was playing week in week out and there was a time I spent on the sidelines for a good few weeks. I was able to bounce back and from the turn of the year kept my place in that team. I am looking to do the same at Dunfermline.

“I learned a lot about winning games up at Cove because we were challenging at the top so hopefully I can bring that to Dunfermline and do the same here.”

Although coming out with defeats he enjoyed big games last season against Hibs in the Betfred Cup and Rangers in the Scottish Cup:-

“That is where you want to be playing against the top players like Kevin Nisbet and Jermaine Defoe. They are the players and the teams that you want to be playing against so it was a really good learning curve for me to play against those top teams.

“You learn the small things. How they try to get in your head and try and put you off. They are all so sharp that at each level you step up you have to be switched on at all times, you cannot switch off for a moment or you lose a goal ultimately. It was really good to learn what the top professionals do. Defoe scored a couple of goals against us and that shut me up!”

Like all his team mates and fans up and down the country Ross is looking forward to a new season kicking off and optimistic that he will feature at Firhill on Saturday against familiar opponents since he faced them three times last season and remains undefeated:-

“It is down to the gaffer what team he picks but I’m fit and ready to go. It has been a tough pre season so the first game of the campaign is always one that you look forward to. Hopefully we can kick start our season by picking up a win.

“They were a good side in League One last season. It is always a tough game going there but I know their team from the number of times that I played them last season. I know the things that they do and can look out for that. I’d like to keep my record against them going by picking up a win at the weekend.”

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