Dunfermline Athletic

Manager on Thursday

Thursday, 29th Jun 2017

29/06/17: "I think it is going to be a very competitive league, there are going to be a lot of teams challenging up towards the top and we want to be one of those teams."

Allan Johnston spoke on Thursday immediately after re -signing Michael Paton:-

"I said to Michael right from the start that I wanted him to come back in pre season. Last pre season when he came back he was still feeling his stomach a bit. When he came in his fitness level was way down because he had not done much over the summer last year.

"Then he needed to get a knee operation and it was catch up from then on. We went on that run where it was difficult to get into the team. I wanted to make sure that he was 100% fit because we all know how good a player he is.

"He has come back flying and fitter than he has ever been. I had him at Queens as well so I know his fitness levels from previous years. He is desperate to go on and have a good season but I never questioned his ability at any stage because he is a top quality player. He can play in a few positions but we just had to let him prove that his fitness is where we wanted it to be."

The manager feels that the coming season is as important for Michael Paton as it is for the team. "He will give it his best shot to make sure that he gets in the team. He said from day one that he did not want to go anywhere else, he had offers to go other places, even in for pre season at other places but he wanted to be here."

Michael will feel that he has a point to prove despite the fact it was Allan Johnston who brought him to Dunfermline from Queen of the South two years ago to the day.

"I know the quality that he brings to the team but it is all about getting good players, he will strengthen our squad and it is a good thing that he can play in a different positions as well."

Revealing that he is still looking to strengthen and fill a few positions in his squad, the gaffer claimed that he was still looking for another three or four signings so that there can be good competition in all areas of the park.

"I have been really pleased by what I have seen so far, we have a few trialists in as well who are good players and definitely give you food for thought. We`ll see how that goes."

AJ said that he had six trialists in training one of whom is striker Lawrence Shankland, and expects to bring a few more in on trial over the next couple of weeks.

"I am really happy with what they have done in training but obviously you need to see them in bigger games as well. We will take our time and make sure that we improve the squad.

"Pre season is going really well. The main thing when they come back is that they don`t get injured and they get as fit as they possibly can. That is what you are trying to do, it is a fine line sometimes not too push them too hard or you don`t push them enough.

"We are getting guided by Gary (McColl) who is a lot more qualified than any of us to judge how hard they are working in training. You know through experience when you are doing enough and when you are not doing enough."

It is all about being ready for the first competitive games and the priority in season 2017-2018 is the league campaign with the aim to win promotion.

"That is the target, we want to improve on what we did last year. I think it is going to be a very competitive league, there are going to be a lot of teams challenging up towards the top and we want to be one of those teams.

"Dundee United have made some big signings and they are going to be favourites to win the league but that doesn`t guarantee anything."

Asked about the cup draws AJ felt that Dunfermline have been lucky:-

"You don`t want to be travelling too far but Elgin and Peterhead at home saves us travelling three and four hours at a time to go and play games. East Fife and Hearts away has worked out quite well. Then getting the home game against Arbroath in the Irn Bru Cup is good too.

"Hopefully we can start fast and get through to the next rounds because you want to be successful in whatever competition you enter and try and go as far as possible. You want to get into that winning habit week in week out."

Confirming Callum Morris as captain the manager feels that he is a big player for his team due to the attributes and qualities he brings. Allan continued:-

"Even off the field he is disciplined and knows the standards that we are looking for. I don`t want to have to be saying to boys every two minutes about wee silly things. That is where you are expecting Cal to step in and make sure that standards are high.

"He comes across well when he talks to the press and I`m sure that he will be a good captain. We have a lot of experienced players in there, they all want to do well this year and you can see that they are really focussed on being successful."

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